November 17, 2018 6:08:37 am
On its maiden visit to the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Pune, a Peer Review Committee from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) received several complaints from students, on issues ranging from lack of transparency about an internal panel to the poor quality of laboratory equipment.
This is the first time the ministry has sent a team since the institute was set up in 2006. During its four-day visit, the team held several meetings and interacted with students, faculty and the administration.
The visit comes at a crucial time, when a section of research scholars from the institute, along with others studying at various national research institutes, are demanding a hike in their fellowship stipends. While the matter is still under consideration, and the central government has promised to resolve the matter soon, the students used this opportunity to raise their demands with the four committee members. They also sought an extension in their five-year fellowships. Once the fellowship period gets over, students don’t receive the stipend any more and they have to sustain themselves.
“The committee expressed keenness to meet the students and accordingly, about 45 of us got an opportunity to voice our concerns before the members. It was a healthy discussion… the committee has assured to sort out many of our problems,” said one of the students.
“Many of the students are unable to complete their doctoral studies within five years, due to a number of reasons, such as delays in availing instruments, absence of guides and many others. We highlighted these pertinent issues to the committee as these are unavoidable delays that affect the completion of doctoral studies. The committee has assured that it will look into this matter promptly,” said the student.
The students also brought up the recent fee hike applicable for the newest batch of PhD students at IISER, before the committee members. At the time of enrolling for PhD or Integrated PhD (I-PhD), a student needs to pay Rs 40,000 or Rs 54,000, depending on the course. Until last batch, this amount stood at Rs 20,000.
“The fee hike was introduced for the batch which enrolled in July 2018 and the institute did not cite any reason for the increase. This was brought to the notice of the committee members, who promised to intervene…we want the decision to be rolled back,” said the student.
The research students also suggested better and ‘transparent’ means to constitute the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) that monitors the progress of every student while pursuing doctoral studies. “We seek transparency and would like to know how the members of RAC are selected. Because,
it is the matter of review of our work and eventually our future and careers. In the present scenario, we feel some
RACs give biased judgements and remarks affecting the student’s work,” said another IISER student, who also got a chance to interact with the ministry officials.
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