The Rajasthan University (RU) is not closing the Centre of Mass Communication (CMC), said the Vice-Chancellor of the varsity, RK Kothari. Earlier, there were speculations that the centre would shut down as the only teacher in the department, professor and former head of CMC, Sanjeev Bhanawat, had retired. Further, the CMC is being bifurcated as the state government has decided to revive the Haridev Joshi University of Journalism (HJUJ) — which was merged into CMC and its teachers and courses were part of the centre since 2017.
The HJUJ, which was set up by the Congress-led Ashok Gehlot government in 2012, was shut down two years ago and the two courses running under the varsity — MA in public relations and MA in electronic media — have been running under RU’s centre of mass communication since. Now that the HJUJ is being revived, the staff and courses of that varsity will no longer be the part of RU. This leaves the RU’s centre of journalism and mass communication with only one course, Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication (MJMC), and practically no teacher.
Talking to indianexpress.com, the vice-chancellor of RU said, “The students who are currently studying first and second semester in our university will continue to study their third and fourth semester with us. They are our bona fide students and will get their degrees from Rajasthan University only. But from the coming academic year, we will continue with our traditional course of MJMC only.”
He also informed that the RU is in talks with the now re-establishing HJUJ to share their teaching staff. “The centre of mass communication was running under self-finance studies (SFS) mode, implying that it is run based on the fees charged from students. The centre will continue this way only and there is no question of any additional recruitment of teacher,” said Kothari.
Since former CMC head Bhanawat was handling multiple departments, his salary was not the responsibility of CMC and to recruit a new faculty exclusively for the centre might add to the financial burden of the centre. He had been working with RU since 1982 and had proposed to launch a PG diploma course in journalism in 1992, which eventually developed into setting up of the centre. During his tenure, he also handled multiple roles; including that of director at the centre for gender studies.
“There are many departments in the state universities where the courses are functioning without a relevant faculty. I was also responsible for MPhil courses in gender studies. If the RU wants, they can rope in faculty members from other departments,” Bhanawat said, adding, “The recruitment cannot happen till the state government notifies a vacancy and many times after being notified, many recruitment processes do not conclude – either the exams are not conducted or results are not released.”
Meanwhile, the students from electronic media and public relations courses have been informed that their classes and exams will be conducted in the HJUJ campus which is 15 km away from the CMC.
“We had taken admission in the state-government university for its brand value. We will not accept any other degree. It is unfair for the varsity to ask us to take classes and appear for exams in another university’s campus because they do not have resources. We are all paying our fee on time and its the varsity’s responsibility to arrange faculty for us,” said Ravi Chaudhary, a student of electronics media department adding, “the other campus is 15 kilometres away from here. We are children of farmers and middle-class households, it is not only logistically but also financially cumbersome for us to commute on a regular basis like this.”
A source in the RU Senate said there are plans to outsource teachers for the MJMC course, however, he did not share details on how the varsity would be financing the guest faculty.
The CMC has been functional for the past three decades. Alumni and students of the department have been protesting through social media campaigns as well as by staging dharnas outside the V-C office to ‘save the dying department’.