JNU Students’ Union on Thursday decided to extend their strike against the massive seat cut in MPhil and PhD courses even as HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar defended the varsity’s decision saying it follows UGC norms. While the students had on Wednesday called for a one-day strike, Thursday they decided to continue it for two more days and hold a protest demonstration outside the University Grants Commission’s office on Friday.
The varsity released its prospectus on Tuesday effecting seat cuts in the MPhil/PhD programmes across courses. The Delhi High Court had dismissed the plea by some students challenging the JNU admission policy for MPhil and PhD courses. The HC had said the UGC guidelines are binding on all varsities, paving the way for the university to begin its admission process. “We have planned to continue the university strike for two more days and stage a mass protest demonstration outside the UGC office tomorrow,” JNUSU President Mohit Pandey said.
The HRD Minister, however, defended the move saying JNU professors guide more researchers than they are mandated to. The Minister’s statement came during the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha when members expressed concern about the state and the quantum of research, including PhDs, being done in the country. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh claimed the UGC guidelines have proved to be counter-productive.
Observing that a court has now held that the JNU should follow the UGC norms, Javadekar said that the UGC mandate is that a professor may guide 8 scholars, an associate professor 6 and assistant professor 4. In JNU, the Minister said, there were instances of professors guiding upto 20-25 scholars for their PhDs.
“Have you heard (this) anywhere?” he asked.
The JNU administration also issued a statement. “The number of vacant seats have been announced in accordance with the cap on research seats as per 2016 UGC Regulation.”
“The argument that there is seat cut is untenable, since the current strength of research scholars are much higher than the required cap,” it added.
“Given the above situation, about 200 seats available in JNU for 2017-18 academic year is still a large number in spite of the need to readjust the number of seats to be allotted to research scholars in various fields,” the statement said. According to the new admission policy, deprivation points are also being applied only to BA and MA courses this year and not to the research courses.
Several JNU schools, including the School of Computer and Systems Sciences, School of Computational and Integrative Sciences, and School of Biotechnology have announced zero intake this year. In the School of Social Sciences, all 13 centres had announced intake last year, but this year only two can admit. Of these, the Centre for Study of Regional Development has provision for only one intake.
The application process for different courses began on Wednesday and will conclude on April 5. The admissions to the courses in JNU are held through entrance examination and interview with 80 per cent weightage being given to the entrance exam and 20 per cent to viva. Earlier, the university had decided to make the entrance as qualifying and give 100 per cent weightage to viva. But following protests from students, the 80:20 formula was arrived at.