As semester system of examinations for undergraduate courses and choice based credit system (CBCS) of education for post-graduation courses have increased financial liabilities on Kashmir University (KU) the authorities have shifted the burden on students aspiring to pursue different courses there. The semester system of exams and CBCS was introduced in 2015 as per guidelines of University Grants Commission (UGC). “Earlier we would conduct only one exam a year, but since 2015 we have to hold two exams each year. It has doubled expenditure viz-a-viz remuneration of paper setter, evaluators and examination staff,” an official said. The annual budget allotted to the University’s examination department was only Rs 7 crore which, according to the official, was too little to meet the expenditures. “We had a liability of Rs 60 lakh towards paper setters and evaluators and despite repeated reminders to authorities we didn’t get any relief. Finally, we had no option but to use funds generated from examination fee to clear the liability,” the official said. Amid the “financial crises”, the university has now hiked the examination fee for undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Each student aspiring to pursue PG is charged Rs 1650 as examination fee. While Rs 1000 has been fixed as exam fee for one backlog subject, Rs 1650 has been fixed as fee for more than one backlog subject. “It is a fact that exam fee is the only source of revenue to meet out salary and other expenditures,” said controller examination, Professor Farooq Ahmad Mir. He however said the funding for examination department should have been increased post implementation of semester system of examination. “We pay Rs 1800 for setting one question paper. In undergraduate 4th semester exams we had to prepare 125 question papers for which the expenditure increased compared to previous years,” he said. An official said due to financial crunch, the examination department was not in position to clear liabilities of evaluators and examination staff. “When the department approaches the administration with proposal to hike the rate, they are told to use exam fund for the purpose,” he said.
However the students complain that they are charged huge amount for semester, backlog or division improvement exams. “To obtain a degree certificate, each student is charged Rs 400, which is not justified. The degree certificate doesn’t cost more than Rs 100 to Rs 150,” said Athar, a student. The students are also charged Rs 300 to 400 as examination management fund (EMF) at time of exams which is supposed to be utilised for providing heating and drinking water facilities to students in exam centres. But these facilities are hardly provided to the students in examination centers.
There are accusations that the varsity is generating revenue from the examination fee and other entrance tests conducted by it. “At least Rs 1000 is charged at the time of PG entrance test per course per students. At the time of last admissions, we received applications from around 30000 students but only 4000 students got selected,” said an official. He said Rs 1000 was also charged at the time of SET exams which generates good revenue for the University. “Last time the university generated a revenue of Rs 4 crore during SET exams,” he said. An official said the students enrolled with directorate of distance education are charged Rs 28000 for a course, but they are allegedly given poor quality study material. “At times the varsity administration utilizes funds of distance department to meet out liabilities. In a way they use students’ money to meet out their liabilities or salaries of employees,” the official said.
To top it all, the varsity charges Rs 300 for verification of degree certificates which has created resentment among students. “For past several months the SSA teachers are approaching university for verification of degrees. Each applicant is charged Rs 300. I had to pay Rs 1200 for verification of degree certificates of graduation, post-graduation, B.Ed and M.Ed,” said Shahida, a teacher from Budgam district. This verification is done by tallying marks with the university gazette which doesn’t have any financial implications.
Registrar KU Nisar Ahmad Mir claimed the varsity has not hiked fee. “We are in fact trying to reduce fee in some courses,” he said. He however defended the varsity decision to charge for degree certificates and verification of degrees. “Once we issue a degree certificate to the students it stands authenticated but government adds our burden by sending these certificates for verification so we charge for it,” he said.