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Examination Management by Anna University

Guest Post by Debananda Misra

Few months’ back, I was little surprised to read about a computerization initiative at Anna University; it implemented an Examination Management System. Essentially, the system automates the complete life cycle of Examination Management which includes online registration of candidates, examination fee management, results, admission ticket generation, question bank management, question paper generation, automated evaluation up to processing and publication of results.

Anna University engineering college was ranked 8th behind all IITs in the India Today 2008 ranking of engineering colleges. Besides this single accomplishment, it probably does not even attract the top state talent from Tamilnadu and does not even figure in the wish list of universities of most higher education aspirants in India. If one considers the list of established universities in India then Anna University is the newest in the league and considering the number of students it caters to, it is also one of the largest (See table below).

University Name


No of students

No of faculty

Delhi University




Osmania University




Jawaharlal Nehru University




University of Pune




Anna University




Jadavpur University




Banaras Hindu Univesity




Aligarh Muslim University




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_universities_in_India

I am not fully sure if other universities have such a system but I would doubt against it. At least, country’s premier technology institutes a.k.a. IITs have not yet managed to invest in such a system so far. May be the IITs do not need to, considering a meager 3000 odd enrollments in a single academic year and the fact that each IIT operates as a separate institute. But, I have not come across any similar investments in any other educational software either by the IITs or even the IIMs. As universities scale to admit more students, colleges, faculties and the need to reduce operational costs rises, I am certain that they need to revert to technology to solve several challenges. It is foolish to think that the universities above have not yet reached that scale, at least not after you consider some of the globally recognized schools in US and UK (See table below).

University Name


No of students

No of faculty

Harvard University, US




Yale University, US




Cambridge University, UK




Oxford University, UK




University of Chicago, US




Columbia University, US




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/THES_-_QS_World_University_Rankings

There is a notable difference in the students to faculty ratio, which can be a separate topic to discuss. Besides that, what is also noteworthy is that the universities in US/UK are much older then the ones in India and most of these have only a fraction of the students of the large universities in India. This may not be a without a reason.

§ Universities such as Osmania or Anna University in India run distance education programs through which they are able to reach out to a lot more students with minimal student to faculty interactions. US/UK universities also have these but the potential to scale up through distance education program is much higher in India then in any other country, plainly attributed to the huge youth population in the country.

§ The Indian university system is based on a collegiate system, which is not practiced in US; it is prevalent in UK though. This allows universities to set up affiliate colleges outside of the university campus, in different cities.

Whatever the reason may be, it is clear that universities in India are much newer then the universities in US/UK and they have grown much faster to become significantly larger. The India Science Report, for instance, shows that India had a total of 48.7 million graduates in 2004. Reportedly, India houses about 250 universities. Considering the number of higher education aspirants, it amounts to each university having to cater to 250,000 – 300,000 students. Similarly, the average college in the country will need to cater to approximately 5000 students. There are not too many universities of this size in the country, nor are many being planned. (Source: Rediff article).

Without proposing any facts, it’s obvious that US/UK universities will out-do their Indian counterparts in technology and infrastructure and thus, run more efficiently. In such a scenario, while the adoption of examination management system by Anna University is a welcome move, its disappointing to see that it comes at a time when the student base is already reaching 300,000, which is the peak demand. About 2,55,000 undergraduate students and 35,000 post graduate students register for semester examinations and the examinations are conducted for 31 UG and 70 PG programs, involving 3,000 subjects at Anna University. Nearly 2 million answer scripts are valued in 10 zonal centers by 8,000 examiners. These are outstanding numbers for a growth story and Anna University and other similar ones can clearly benefit by such infrastructure or technology investments.

§ It allows the universities to run efficiently and thus focus on the right areas, such as research and teaching. This is even more beneficial in India where most universities have failed to maintain a good student to faculty ratio.

§ It allows them to expand easily. With a huge college going population in India, there is an increasing pressure from the government to expand the universities and admit more students. Technology investments will allow them to scale easily; be it setting up more campuses, conducting more exams, hiring more faculty etc.

§ It’s hard to reach out to the small town population in India. Investments such as these will also enable universities to set up virtual campuses or also set up distance education programs which helps tap into a much larger student base. For example, the online admission process followed by most US/UK universities allows them to attract global talent where as most entrance examinations for Indian universities are conducted in a fashion which can not even scale to even all the towns in India, let alone outside of India.

§ Other than some of the recognized institutes such as the IITs or the IIMs, the student-student and student-faculty interactions remain abysmally low at most universities. Adoption of educational softwares will enable faculties to be able to communicate with the large student base that she/he is responsible for and vice-versa.

With the organized job sector in India growing, the need for a university education will also grow tremendously in the near future.  It is beyond time that most of the higher educational universities in India go through a technology revamp, if they want to, at the least, sustain the quality of education they provide today. Kudos to Anna University for being able to surpass some of the other well established universities in India in doing so.

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