Updated: August 14, 2021 7:05:21 am
A day before state Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant’s scheduled visit to the Communication and Journalism department at Ranade Institute following widespread protests over the proposed decision of the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) to merge it with the Department of Media and Communication Studies on the university campus, the SPPU administration announced that it has put its decision on hold.
However, as soon as the decision was announced, Samant tweeted that the university’s course correction hasn’t changed his plans to visit the institute. “I am thankful that the SPPU authorities have re-considered their decision on merging Ranade Institute. But I will still visit it on Saturday, as announced earlier, to meet journalists and organisations and listen to their sentiments,” wrote Samant.
For several days, student unions, journalist bodies and civil society activists have been protesting against the decision of the SPPU to merge the much-acclaimed journalism department at Ranade Institute with the Media and Communication department on campus. Established in 1964, the Ranade Institute is the alma mater of several top-ranking journalists and civil activists. The institute is housed in a British era building dating back to 1910 near Fergusson College.
Claiming that the merger will affect fees and social structure of students, among other things, student and social activists have raised questions over the hush-hush manner in which the decision was taken and alleged ulterior motives behind shifting the department, which is housed on prime commercial land.
Following the protests, Samant had promised to intervene in the matter and said he would visit Ranade Institute on August 14. On a visit to Nanded earlier this week, he had told mediapersons that the institute has a long and prestigious history. “If there is any political motive behind it (relocation), it will be quashed,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a press statement issued by the officer on special duty, communications, at SPPU, the administration said the decision to merge the department was taken for ease of students and faculty. “During the NAAC audit in 2011, the university was instructed to set up the proposed school system and it was pending till the next audit in 2017. Under the school system, all allied departments come under one system for ease of administration and sharing resources. It was decided to shift the Masters course on campus while diploma and certificate courses could continue to be offered from Ranade Institute premises. This move would have helped students who live in hostels on university campus and have to travel to Ranade Institute for classes. However, there was a lot of misunderstanding regarding the decision. Following a representation from the Pune Union of Working Journalists, we have decided to put the decision on hold,” read the statement, issued on Friday evening.
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