Malappuram: In a curious development, the University of Calicut has paid Rs 50 lakh to a ‘confidential printer’ to print question papers from October 2022-January 2023 even though all its exam-related activities were made online after the COVID-19 crisis. The payment was disclosed during a recent Syndicate meeting of the university.
Question papers are distributed exclusively online by the university ever since the COVID-19 outbreak. The question papers are now mailed to colleges, which have to take printouts with their own funds.
To meet this expense, the university provides Rs 4 per regular student and Rs 8 for a distance education student. The university has set apart an amount other than the Rs 50 lakh paid to the ‘confidential printer’ for the purpose.
Currently, the only duty of the Printing Department of the university is to convert the soft copy of the question papers mailed by teachers to PDF format after inserting the name of the university and other details.
Prior to the pandemic, question papers were sent to a private printing press, mostly outside Kerala, for printing. As the identity of the press was known only to the university registrar, the term ‘confidential printer’ was used in all official records. The amount paid to the press was intended to cover costs for dispatching the question papers by flight or train also.
When transportation of printed question papers could not be carried out during the lockdowns imposed during the pandemic, Calicut University switched to online distribution to colleges.
However, the recent accounts presented before the Syndicate reveal that funds were paid to anonymous beneficiaries under the guise of question paper printing. As per records, the money was paid from the amount collected as exam fees from students.