By Rushikesh Gawade
From fewer vacancies for PhD seats to solutions for lesser job opportunities for students of traditional courses, a volley of questions was thrown at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU)’s Vice-Chancellor Dr N Karmalkar, on the second episode of the recently started interactive community radio programme Prashna Tumche, Uttar Kulgurunche (Your Questions, Vice-Chancellor’s Answers), broadcast on Wednesday.
The programme is an initiative of Vidyawani, the internal community radio station of the university. The students’ queries ranged from the unavailability of PhD seats to the broken glasses of the hostel rooms. The questions came not just from students but also assistant professors working at colleges affiliated to the university. In his replies, the V-C suggested some remedies for the problems.
The programme is pre-recorded where students and others send in their questions, the V-C listens to them and answers them and the programme is then telecast on a designated day and time, which is announced by the university.
Three out of nine questions were about the unavailability of vacancies for PhD seats. Sushant Bhosale, a student of Anthropology, pointed out that some subjects do not have any seats for PhD at all. In his reply, Karmalkar said that the university administration is considering a proposal to designate some experts in some particular subjects as ‘adjunct professors’ who can work as guides for PhD students. This will lead to an increase in the number of available seats. The V-C also referred to a University Grant Commission’s circular issued recently that limited the number of students that each guide can accept to maintain quality. To another student’s complaint, the V-C admitted that entrance exams for PhD seats are not being taken every year as they should be and promised to bring in regularity in conducting these exams.
An assistant professor spoke about the lack of employment prospects among students who take traditional courses like BA or BSc and asked for remedies. The V-C replied that students learning in these faculties need to be more ‘innovative’. Giving an example of the ongoing metro project in Pune, he said that, in spite of it being mostly technical work, the project also requires social expertise for works like environmental impact assessment of the project, which comprises assessment of the project’s social impacts. Students of traditional subjects should look around for such opportunities.
Replying to a question by a law student about why most law students get marks in the range of 40 to 50, the V-C said that the law college teachers are usually absent for checking the papers and the university has to call professional lawyers for this job. This may be the reason for stricter evaluation. The number of questions asked in the second episode decreased to nine from 20 questions in the first episode. Pointing this out, V-C said that ongoing exams could be the reason behind this and also that he hoped for more questions to come in next time.