In a move that has invited the ire of both students and teachers, the JNU has decided to make attendance compulsory for all its students, including research scholars. A circular on December 22, and signed by Assistant Registrar (Evaluation) Sajjan Singh, states, “The Academic Council in its 144th Academic Council meeting held on December 1… has resolved to make attendance compulsory for all registered students… Attendance is mandatory from the winter semester 2018, for all students in all programmes, including BA, MA, MPhil and PhD.”
Singh told The Indian Express that they haven’t decided what will be the minimum attendance mark the students have to meet. “It is the decision of the AC, which I have just communicated to all departments and students,” he said.
Another notice signed by Singh stated that “the vice-chancellor has constituted a committee of five members to frame the modalities/guidelines for the attendance system and its implementation”. Professor Bijoy Kumar Kuanr, one of the five members of the panel, said they received the circular Tuesday and are yet to hold the first meeting.
The JNU teachers’ and students’ associations — JNUTA and JNUSU, respectively — came out strongly against the move. JNUTA president Ayesha Kidwai said no such decision was passed in the December 1 AC meeting. “The V-C made a proposal that he will form a committee to look into compulsory attendance. But no decision was taken. It is ridiculous. This is not the way we do things in JNU and we don’t think establishing a police culture is the way to ensure academic excellence,” she said, adding that the V-C was trying to replicate the IIT model in JNU.
JNUSU president Geeta Kumari said, “JNU’s academic excellence achieved till date has rested on the philosophy of freedom of debate and discussion, inclusion and equality. The move to impose compulsory attendance is highly absurd.”
The ABVP too protested the move. “The system has been implemented without any comprehensive, inclusive, participative and academic debate as to how it is going to affect the evolution of a student as a conscientious citizen,” said ABVP leader Saurabh Sharma. The Registrar, VC and the Rector-I did not respond to queries on the issue.
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