G. Mahadevan

Complaints grossly exaggerated, says varsity

Mixing up of signatures, photographs alleged

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The System for Web-enabled Exam Transactions (SWEET), developed by the computer centre of the University of Kerala, intended to facilitate interactions between colleges and the varsity appears to have developed teething troubles with a section of students and teachers complaining that the system is not user-friendly.

SWEET was deployed for the first time to enable fourth-semester students of B.Tech. courses to register online for their university examinations and to allow students of other semesters to enrol with the university.

A teacher in a government engineering college in the city told The Hindu that the software should have been properly tested before being deployed. What the software has ended up doing is to transfer the load of enrolment and registration from the university to the individual colleges, he said. “Most of the students/colleges had to try out photographs/signatures of varying resolutions (by doing editing with Adobe Photoshop, Gimp etc) before it finally got accepted by the system. The system seems to expect the resolutions of the images to be within a very narrow range. (But there is no mention of what that range is),” the teacher said in an e-mail.

After enrolment, the staff advisers at the colleges have to verify the data. The verification, the teacher claimed, could only be done in a Windows-based system and that the photographs/signatures of students do not appear on Linux-based browsers such as Mozilla. Another problem that some students encountered while using SWEET was the mixing up of signatures and photographs after these were loaded onto the system. The students are also said to have problems with their passwords. For password change one should go in person to the university computer centre, a student said. Moreover, the ‘java script’ code for password verification is reportedly a rudimentary affair; one that could be easily cracked. University Computer Centre Director V. Ajayakumar said here that the complaints about the system were either grossly exaggerated or were stray problems that had more to do with usage patterns than with the software. There was an initial problem wherein only the students’ signature got uploaded and not the photograph. This could have happened in centres where a lot of students tried to upload pictures simultaneously. Also, if students had used high-resolution pictures, it would have taken more time and thus the server might have timed out the session. “We reset the system in such a manner that if the photograph was not uploaded, nothing got into the system,” Dr. Ajayakumar explained.

He also termed as baseless the allegation that SWEET responded only to Windows-based servers. The system was tested repeatedly before being deployed. “Enrolment is different from registration. All those who registered online have been sent hall tickets,” Dr. Ajayakumar added.