The former Controller of Examinations (CoE), Anna University, was suspended over charges of irregularities reported in the revaluation of engineering examination answer sheets.
A large number of students reportedly paid money to have their scores enhanced during revaluation of their answer scripts. The New Indian Express reports that the students paid Rs 10, 000 each for the excess marks.
According to The Times of India, a preliminary investigation revealed that of the 3,02,380 students who applied for revaluation, 73,733 passed, and about 16,636 got enhanced marks in the revaluation done during August 2017. The suspects allegedly altered marks on the answer sheets of the students who paid bribes.
This practice of paying for enhanced marks is called â€śpaper chasingâ€ť.
â€śIt signifies how one has to chase and find out who the examiner in-charge of re-evaluating your paper would be, paying the bribe and getting a pass markâ€ť, a student of Anna University told ToI.
How does paper chasing work?
Students are approached by agents who offer to get their marks enhanced for a certain amount of money. Staff, both teaching and non-teaching, at the lower levels, act as agents and communicate with students. Sometimes, relatives of the staff act as agents.
In the case of Anna University, students were given a code which they would write on their answer sheets. This code was an indication for the examiner that the sheets had to be given enhanced marks.
In some cases, the student would write a few pages of answers, and enter the total number of pages written in single digits or numbers that can be easily altered. The brokers would later help them access the sheets, and they would fill in the remaining answers and change the number of pages written.
Another way to enhance marks was through a loophole in the university revaluation rules. Thereâ€™s a central evaluation â€” a first re-evaluation, and a second re-evaluation. If the re-evaluation marks are more than 15 in comparison to the original evaluation, it is sent for a second re-evaluation.
The three scores are compared, and the best among the two most consistent scores is taken as the final score. So if the student scores 10 in the original evaluation, 50 in the first re-evaluation, and 70 in the second re-evaluation, the final score would be taken as 70, as the difference between the first and second revaluations is less than the difference between the original evaluation and the first re-evaluation. That is, 50 and 70 will be considered as consistent as they are closer to each other than 10 and 50.
According to a Times of India report, the scam has been happening for at least ten years.
However, Anna University is not the only educational institution in the news for paper chasing.
In 2006, the Madurai Kamaraj University was put on high alert after reports of paper chasing by the University of Madras.
In 2013, Madras University made news for violations in the exams for BE, B.tech and Institute of Distance Education (IDE). Inquiries found malpractice in the conduct of these exams in 2011, to enable students to clear their arrear exams. The scam involved enhancing marks for students who had scored zero and fixing exam centres for a few candidates.