Students put in days, months and sometimes years of effort to clear exams and secure seats in some of the premier institutes of the country. With the same hope, about 59,000 law aspirants wrote the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), 2018 on May 13.
Students across the country met with a rude shock when they were faced with the gross mismanagement at CLAT exam centres.
CLAT is a centralised test for admission to 19 National Law Universities in India. 43 other education institutes and two public sector institutes are also eligible to use these scores. The exam which was first held in the year 2008, is organised by different National Law Universities (NLU) every year on a rotational basis.
CLAT 2018 was conducted by National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi. The students were required to pay a registration fee of Rs 4,000 for this examination. The exam interface was changed this year. Also, Sify Technologies were given the responsibility of conducting the exam for the first time.
Students across centres complain of gross mismanagement
Students across centres complained of several technical glitches which cost them precious minutes. In many centres, the computer screen froze in between the exam more than once. The invigilators and the system administrators at such centres could not resolve the issue on time, again making the students suffer. Shockingly, invigilators at many centres left the examination hall in between the test, leaving the students to discuss among themselves. It is being reported that blatant cheating continued even in presence of invigilators at some centres.
The Logical Indian spoke to a law aspirant Anurag from Bangalore. He said, “I have dropped a year to write this exam. The exam was supposed to start at 3 pm and end at 5 pm. However, the exam hall I was seated at, faced a delay of one hour due to technical glitches. My exam hall was separated from other exam halls by a glass wall and I could see students in the other hall began writing the exam at 3 pm itself. Unlike last year, the computer systems were assigned randomly. Few of us were then moved to another exam hall. After I started taking the test, my computer screen froze at least three to four times.”
Anurag also pointed at the inefficiency of the exam centre in charge and invigilators, “Every time there was a problem and we approached our invigilators, they were clueless. They would take a lot of time resolving the issues. After facing problem repeatedly, I was told to wait till one of the candidates completes the exam so that I can take the test on that system. I waited till 5:30 pm, till one of the candidates finished the exam. Not only me, many others faced the same issue. We had to stay back at the exam centres till 7:30-8:00 pm.”
Anurag decided to write a letter stating what happened and get it signed by the invigilator of his examination hall on the same. “The invigilator refused to sign, I approached other authorities, even they refused. Even the cops arrived and told me to go away.”
The Logical Indian spoke to another candidate Paras from Gurgaon. “The centre allotted to me did not have proper infrastructure. There was no proper ventilation. There were power cuts during the exam. Also, the invigilators allowed some of the students to seat at places of their choice. The CLAT interface has been changed this year, so in a way to familiarise us with the changes, sample papers at the beginning of the exam were to be shown to us. However, in my centre, the sample paper did not load properly. I also lost a lot of time, close to 15 minutes, as the computer screen froze more than seven to eight times. We have paid Rs 4000 for the registration. With about 59,000 students appearing for the exam the authorities might have made more Rs 23 crore. Even then the exam was so unorganised.”
Gautami from Gauhati too faced similar problems. “Seats were not properly assigned. We were allowed to sit where ever we wished to. The computer system I was appearing for the test froze many times. There was a power cut once and some of the students took it as an opportunity to discuss the questions among themselves while the invigilator ignored it.”
The students are demanding a retest now, however, they have little hope. “Some of the student groups have been signing petitions. But we are not sure whether there would be any reconducting of the test.”
The students are also demanding that a permanent body be set up which would be conducting this test to make the whole system more accountable.
The Logical Indian spoke to Vennela Krishna, founder of online education portal Law School 101, “After the exam, many of my students approached me regarding absolute mismanagement of the exam. To understand the situation, I conducted a little survey by sending out Google survey forms. I expected to receive 30-40 responses, but, within just 24 hours, I have received more than 1,000 responses. The students are completely disheartened, believing their dreams of a career in law are over. Coaching for these examinations cost anywhere between one-two lakhs. Some of these students have taken a drop of two years just for this exam and I can’t explain you the dismal state of mind these students are at right now.”
Vennela added, “This sort of mismanagement is unprecedented in the history of CLAT examinations. Sure there were problems related to question papers and other relatively minor issues, but this mismanagement and subsequent apathy shown by the authority this year has never happened before. If this is the case with the entrance examination for law, you can imagine where we are heading.”
Shashi Tharoor too tweeted about the same
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) May 14, 2018
The Logical Indian take
It is highly unexpected that an examination of such a stature is so haphazardly managed. At the end of day, the students are the ultimate sufferers. Many of the students who took the test have taken one to two years drop to prepare for the same. For this exam, students had to shell out a whopping Rs 4,000, even then the students had to undergo these issues. Sify technologies, the organisation which conducted the exam, earlier too has been embroiled in such controversy. During the even during the SSC-CGL student protests in March, the candidates demanded that Sify technologies should not be allowed to conduct the exam since it seems compromised.
The Logical Indian hopes that authorities take notice and empathise with the students. Proper measures should be taken to solve this and it should be made sure that such incidents do not happen in future.