JNU erupts as students protest against massive seat cut for research courses
As the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) released its new admission prospectus on Tuesday, students on Wednesday protested against the massive seat cut for MPhil/Phd courses by observing a strike and burning effigies of the Vice-Chancellor along with copies of the prospectus.
Boycotting classes all day, students burnt the effigy and the prospectus in front of three schools – the School of Social Sciences (SSS), the School of International Studies (SIS), and the School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies (SL). Acting on a call given by the JNU Students’ Union, students of nearly all schools and centres at JNU participated in the strike.
The university began its admission process on Tuesday, but in line with the UGC gazette notification of May 2016 that puts a cap on the number of research students a faculty member can supervise, the intake for MPhil/PhD has been cut down to 107 students from what used to be more than 1,000 students.
Besides, the deprivation point system, according to which students from backward areas were awarded up to 5 points during admission, will not be implemented for MPhil/PhD students this year onwards.
In fact, several centres have zero intake of research students this year, while many have just one seat.
Major centres like the Centre for Political Studies (CPS), the Centre for Historical Studies (CHS), the Centre for Indian Languages (CIL) and the Centre for International Politics, Organisation and Disarmament (CIPOD) have no intake at all this year.
In the School of Social Sciences (SSS), which has 15 centres under it, only three centres are accepting research students this year, with the total intake being 14. Earlier, the centres under SSS used to accept more than 100 research scholars.
Similarly, the School of International Studies (SIS) is accepting only 11 new scholars while SL will take 32 scholars. Again, both these centres used to accept more than a 100 students each till last year.
Others like the Centre for European Studies and the Centre for South Asian Studies are taking only one research scholar this year.
There has been a drastic reduction in the research seats for science schools as well.
However, a student activist who didn't want to be named, pointed out that the social sciences, which usually adopt a more progressive political stance and where ABVP does badly, have been the worst affected.
As per the UGC new rules, a teacher at the post of professor can supervise up to three MPhil and eight PhD scholars, an associate professor can guide up to two MPhil and six PhD scholars while an assistant professor cannot supervise more than one MPhil and four PhD scholars.
Students of JNU had been protesting against the adoption of the UGC notification by VC M Jagadesh Kumar during the recent controversial meetings of the Academic Council and the Executive Council, on the grounds that the seat cut drastically reduces the research opportunities for students, especially those from marginalised backgrounds.
Earlier, Jagadesh Kumar had assured students there would be no significant seat cut and the deprivation point system will also stay in place.
In a statement, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) said the administration was playing with the futures of postgraduate students, and called it a “massive assault on social justice and inclusiveness by denying research opportunity to the marginalised.”
“The prospectus exposes the blatant lies of the JNU administration and the VC,” said JNUSU general secretary Satarupa Chakraborty.
She said the “total university strike” would continue on Thursday, and the JNUSU council would meet Wednesday night to decide the future course of action.
JNUSU president Mohit Kumar Pandey said, “The administration is doing its best to destroy the research opportunities at JNU. But we will continue to fight the massive seat cut. We will challenge this legally as well as keep up our protest.”
Last week, the Delhi high court had dismissed the plea by some JNU students that challenged the adoption of the UGC notification by the administration citing “procedural lapses”. They had contended that the notification would lead to excessive seat cuts. But the court ruled that the notification was binding on all universities.