University Grants Commission (UGC) came with a new notification on the MPhil/PhD admission which was published in the gazette on 5th May, 2016. The disastrous impact of this notification on the social justice, autonomy and inclusive nature of the universities is in front of all of us. Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University have recently authoritatively pushed this notification, overriding the impact that it will have on the students from the deprived sections. Similarly, we also have the experience of Kerala University, where the VC (appointed by the UDF government) implemented this notification authoritatively and this led to drastic reduction in the seats.
This UGC notification far from being a “guideline” is in effect a “straightjacket” with rigid examination criteria, admission rules and the criteria for the eligibility of research supervision.
The Notification says clearly that higher educational institution “shall admit candidates by a two stage process through: An Entrance Test shall be qualifying with qualifying marks as 50%. The syllabus of the Entrance Test shall consist of 50% of research methodology and 50% shall be subject specific. An interview/viva-voce to be organized by the institution when the candidates are required to discuss their research interest/area through a presentation before a duly constituted Department Research Committee. The interview/viva voce shall also consider the following aspects, viz. whether: the candidate possesses the competence for the proposed research; the research work can be suitably undertaken at the Institution/College; the proposed area of research can contribute to new/additional knowledge.”
At a time when the Abdul Nafey committee constituted by the JNU administration has itself come to a conclusion (based on the analysis of the admission related data) that discrimination based on caste and ‘social group’ is indeed a reality. Hence, it recommended that the viva marks be reduced from ‘30% to 15%’ to mitigate this discrimination. There are similar empirical data on the caste based discrimination in other universities as well. Now, we are being pushed towards 100% viva.
The fact that the “entrance test” will have uniform qualifying marks of 50% across the categories, will in effect mean that in many of the universities there would be a real possibility of ‘no student from the reserved category” found suitable for the interview. Hence, this model will act as a ploy to restrict the implementation of the constitutionally guaranteed reservation policy.
The template based approach in deciding the question papers to the interview content will erode the academic autonomy of the universities.
Further, the notification also lays down strict rules regarding the eligibility of “research supervision”. It says: “A Research Supervisor/Co-supervisor who is a Professor, at any given point of time, cannot guide more than three (3)M.Phil. and Eight (8) Ph.D. scholars. An Associate Professor as Research Supervisor can guide up to a maximum of two (2) M.Phil. and six (6) Ph.D. scholars and an Assistant Professor as Research Supervisor can guide up to a maximum of one (1) M.Phil. and four (4) Ph.D. scholars.”
This basically means that there are will be a drastic reduction in the available number of MPhil and PhD seats in all our public universities.
The CEC of SFI strongly denounces this disastrous gazette notification and demands that it be taken back immediately. We do understand that there is a need for review of the prevailing admission norms in our universities and research institutions. However, any change must lead towards greater representation of the students from the deprived communities and not the contrary. At the same time, an overarching mechanism which erodes the autonomy of universities can’t be accepted at all.
This assault is part and parcel of the RSS-BJP’s agenda of attack on social justice and public universities. SFI calls upon all its university units to build robust movement against this attack.
VP Sanu (President)
Vikram Singh (General Secretary)