The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has been in the news again, this time regarding alleged seat cuts in MPhil/PhD admissions from the coming academic session. But the caps, imposed on how many students a supervisor can guide — stipulated by the UGC gazette notification of May 2016 — are not new. The UGC had issued a similar notification in 2009 too. Former administrators said the issue was handled at the level of centres and statutory bodies such as the Academic Council.
“In my time, there was no further notification from the UGC and neither did we write to them. We tried to follow the rule. But with the 50 per cent increase in OBC seats and number of faculty available, the ratio was different. We thought over a period of time, we could go according to the UGC norms. We should fill up more positions so that the ratio will be alright. I myself appointed over 220 professors,” former vice-chancellor S K Sopory told The Indian Express. He served as the V-C from 2011-16.
“It was discussed once in the Academic Council; the science schools had brought it up because the number of labs was limited. We had a discussion and people agreed that we need not enhance the seats much in that sense, keep it at the minimum level. But these decisions are discussed and passed in Academic Council meetings,” he said, adding that “if some faculty have very high numbers, it needs to be looked into”.
Professor Sudha Pai, who was the Rector at the time, said the administration did not actively take up the issue, leaving it to the centres instead. “JNU is a decentralised institution and the issue was settled at the level of the centres. They did try (to follow the UGC guidelines) and many also tried to restrict direct PhDs. I don’t recall the UGC calling the university and saying — you have to do this,” she said.
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