Uproar at JNU over admission prospectus, massive seat cuts

Following the UGC regulations, the university has also stated that admission to MPhil/PhD would be dependent only on viva-voce.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Published: March 23, 2017 4:57:23 am
Students burn an effigy of JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar on Wednesday. Abhinav Saha

The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Wednesday witnessed major uproar by students and teachers over the prospectus for the coming academic session, which has drastically cut down seats in MPhil/PhD courses from 1,048 last year to just 130 this year.

Additionally, 64 seats have also been offered for Direct PhD. Students called for a strike and burnt the prospectus as well as effigies of the administration, with JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Mohit Pandey terming the move a “death sentence for JNU”.

JNU has also done away with deprivation points for research scholars — a unique policy which facilitates entry of students, especially women from marginalised backgrounds. Bhupali, working president of the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA), said, “This move will affect students coming from marginalised and oppressed backgrounds the most. Right now, an all-organisation meeting is under way. So, hopefully, all students will come together on this issue,” she said.

As per the High Court order, the UGC gazette notification of May 2016 has been followed for admission to MPhil/PhD courses which stipulates the number of students a faculty member can guide. Since many of them guide more than the stipulated number, various centres and schools have zero intake this year.

Following the UGC regulations, the university has also stated that admission to MPhil/PhD would be dependent only on viva-voce. “The entrance examination would be of qualifying nature with 50 per cent qualifying marks followed by viva-voce,” the prospectus reads. Students have time and again argued that marks for viva-voce should be reduced since it leads to discrimination.

Most affected by the seat cut are the three biggest schools of JNU — School of Social Sciences (SSS), School of International Studies (SIS) and the School of Language, Literature & Cultural Studies (SL). While these schools had an intake of 340 seats, 238 seats and 221 seats, respectively last year for MPhil/PhD. This year, they are only being able to offer 14 seats, 11 seats and 32 seats respectively.

Many important centres from among these schools, will not be taking in any student at all. The Centre for Russian & Central Asian Studies in SIS, had an intake of 38 last year, but is altogether missing from the list this year. Of the 13 centres at SIS, only three have any intake this year. Similarly of the 13 centres at SSS, only two are offering admission, and of the 12 Centres in SL, only four have any intake.

However, it’s not just centres, but entire schools and special centres which will also not be allowed to admit research scholars. The School of Computer & Systems Sciences, School of Computational and Integrative Sciences and School of Biotech-nology have zero intake, along with the Centre for Study of Law and Governance, as well as the Centre for Sanskrit Studies and Centre for Molecular Medicine.

Ayesha Kidwai, president of JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA), said: “It is an atrocious list; it is false. To say that there is no seat in many of the centres is completely wrong because the UGC has no retrospective effect. The JNU V-C has given up on the JNU Act. Even the regulations state that the decision on how many students to intake has to be decided by academic bodies — which is the Centre, School and the Academic Council.

The intake is still titled ‘tentative’ because the Centres have not been asked! We will hold a GBM tomorrow to chart the future course of action. We won’t do anything to jeopardise the academic career of students, but we will take the fight as far as we can.”

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