Mr. VC, Revoke Imposition of Unconstitutional UGC Notification on JNU!
Resist Massive Seat Cut in M.Phil/Ph.D.!
Revoke 100% Viva! Reduce Viva to 15% as per Nafey Committee!
Reconvene 142nd AC Meeting! Remove All Anti-Student Impositions!
End the Regime of Victimisations, Notices and Intimidations!
Oppression Is Your Privilege! Protest Is Our Right!
30 Jan – Join Juloos from Ganga Dhaba @9.00pm culminating in
Indefinite Hunger Strike at Ad Block
2 Feb – March to MHRD
3 Feb – Public Hearing
7 Feb – Referendum
Along With Hostel & Centre Level Consultations, Centre Wise Mass Delegations, Postcard Campaign
Friends, On 27th January 2016, Mr. Jagadesh Kumar took charge as the Vice Chancellor of JNU. He has chosen to mark the completion of the first year of his tenure by forcibly imposing the UGC notification of 5th May 2016, which is nothing but a blueprint for curtailing JNU’s M.Phil./Ph.D. research programmes and inclusive admission policy.
The very beginning of the JNU VC’s tenure was marked by a Shutdown JNU Campaign run by the ABVP and RSS machinery. In February last year the Vice Chancellor, dancing to the RSS-ABVP tune, invited Delhi police to unleash a massive crackdown on students. A spirited upsurge of JNU students and teachers, StandWithJNU followed. Since then the VC has adopted different strategies to kill JNU from within: the highest number of notices and punishments to students and teachers alike; protesters demanding punishment for Najeeb are punished while the ABVP goons who attacked Najeeb are protected; the Freedom Square is banned for protests and the Ad Block walled in with a grill; surveillance is unleashed on public meetings; the most brazen form of political partisanship marks administrative functions, including in the appointment of wardens and selection of Chairpersons.
To achieve the RSS objective, the JNU VC is also undermining each and every institution and humiliating the faculty members heading these institutions – unless they fall in line with his diktats. The resignation of no less than two Chief Proctors during the very first year of this VC’s tenure tells its own story. In the latest instance, it seems apparent that the Chief Proctor who served notices to ABVP cadre accused of beating up Najeeb, leading to his disappearance, has had to resign, while draconian disciplinary notices to students and teachers were for some time now being served by the Registrar’s office rather than the Proctor’s!!
At a time when opportunities for higher education are increasingly becoming concentrated in a few privileged hands, JNU stands as a glorious aberration to this exclusionary norm. It is imperative for the RSS and its puppet VC to kill JNU’s spirit of inclusiveness and social justice. The UGC notification is being used precisely to this end to destroy JNU’s inclusive admission system and its cherished M.Phil./Ph.D. research program.
UGC Notification and Other Anti-Student Decisions Imposed Through An Illegally Conducted 142nd AC Meeting:
The 142nd AC meeting,arbitrarily convened during the winter break, despite objections from teachers and students, was used by the VC to unilaterally impose a whole range of anti-student policies.Firstly, instead of approving the Nafey Committee recommendations of reducing Viva weightage from 30% to 15%, which was an outcome of JNUSU’s years of struggle, the VC abruptly invoked the UGC notification of 5th May 2016. With this, the VC tried to cut seats for M.Phil./Ph.D. admissions, alter JNU’s entire admission policy for M.Phil./Ph.D. by making it 100% Viva-based and also undermining JNU’s cherished deprivation points in admissions. Secondly, a fee hike proposal for JNU’s admissions was also forcibly ‘passed’, ignoring JNUSU’s strong opposition to it. Thirdly, the VC tried to alter the long established norms of “selection committee” for faculty appointment only to saffronise JNU’s faculty appointment process. The members of the Academic Council had expressed their strong opposition to the way the AC meeting had been undemocratically concluded. The 142nd AC meeting must be reconvened and all the unilateral decisions taken by the Vice Chancellor must be declared null and void.
Dangerous Implications of the UGC Notification: Massive Seat Cut and Complete Destruction of Socially Inclusive Admission Policy in M. Phil/ Ph.D.
The 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, which grossly compromises the autonomy of universities, particularly those like JNU which are already following a rigorous and far more socially inclusive admission policy evolved through decades of students’ struggle, dialogue and research, and a rigorous model of time bound, regular system of research evaluation.
Blueprint for Massive Seat Cut: To begin with, the UGC notification 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, with many centres unable to provide a single seat over next few years. Already, a letter from the JNU Director Admissions to the centres dated 11th January makes it clear that JNU is moving towards seat cuts: “Accordingly the number of students intake for M.Phil./PhD programmes will be recast on the basis of faculty strength of each school/centre/special school as per clause 6.5 of the above said UGC regulation.”
It is important to note that the JNU faculty is not complaining of ‘overburden’/’excess research scholars’; on the contrary, they have forcefully opposed the UGC notification – yet the VC is using the UGC notification to impose a straightjacket formula disregarding the specific needs and potential of our University.
The fundament question is, is it correct to restrict admissions/enrolment in higher research based on the existing faculty strength? Should not the UGC and the Government instead plan to expand faculty strength in research programmes depending on the expanding number of new aspirants?
JNU is one of the last few universities in the country which provides a hope for students from remote areas and marginalized backgrounds to pursue affordable quality research. Rather than taking up the responsibility of expanding faculty strength and filling up vacant posts, the UGC notification is being used to do the opposite: forcing students to bear the brunt of the lack of infrastructure by reducing the number of seats!
Multiple Strategies to Destroy Socially Inclusive Admission Policy in M. Phil/ PhD: The adoption of UGC notification will undermine the Prof. Nafey Committee Recommendations to reduce Viva weightage in M.Phil./Ph.D. admissions, JNU’s unique and decades-old deprivation point system in admissions and other specific provisions which have made JNU one of best universities in terms of inclusive social composition and academic rigour and quality.
100% Viva Weightage: The UGC notification states that the M. Phil /PhD admission will be based on a two step entrance process consisting of written and viva. It also states that written test will be a qualifier. In JNU entrance for integrated M. Phil/PhD is already a two step entrance test and a qualifying mark is fixed. Nowhere does the UGC notification mention that the written will be a mere qualifier. But the JNU Vice Chancellor has deliberately “over read” the UGC notification by making written test a mere qualifier. That would mean viva will carry 100% weightage in making the admission list. It is ironical that the Prof. Abdul Nafey committee constituted after JNUSU’s sustained struggle and of which JNUSU was a part, has 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. But we are being pushed towards 100% viva-based admission process with the written examination reduced to a mere qualifier. This would open the door for 100% discretion, discrimination and favouritism in the admission process. It is also important to note that there is a 1980 5-judge Constitution Bench verdict (Ajay Hasia) which forbids any selection process to have more than 15% weightage for viva because of the discriminatory potential structurally embedded in any interview process.
High and Exclusionary Eligibility Criteria: The existing eligibility marks (of the last qualifying exam) for applying in M. Phil/PhD in different centres of JNU vary from 45% to 55% keeping in terms with the diversity of JNU’s academics. The UGC notification dictates blanket 55% criteria in the last qualifying exam for all subjects. The implementation of such rigid straight-jacketed criteria will deny thousands of students the chance to even apply for JNU’s M.Phil./Ph.D. programmes, students from deprived sections being the largest casualty.
High and Arbitrary Qualifying Marks in the Written Test: In JNU, till now, in order to be called for the viva voce for M.Phil. admissions, students need to obtain a minimum marks (35% for unreserved categories, 31.5% for OBCs and 25% for SC/ST/PH out of 70; in the written exam). According to the UGC circular, all students now have to obtain a minimum of 50% marks in the written exam, with no mention of relaxation to students from deprived backgrounds. Hence, this model will act as a ploy to restrict the implementation of the constitutionally guaranteed reservation policy, and amounts to a serious violation of Constitutional principles.
Undermining Deprivation Points: In the current admission system of JNU, the marks of the written and the viva components are added to get the final scores. Hence, the deprivation points can be added to the written marks. However, in the new scheme of things, wherein the marks of the 2 components cannot be added- what will happen to the deprivation points? If written is made a mere qualifier then, addition of deprivation point at written level will not create any impact in the composition of the final admission list. If deprivation point is given at the level of viva then it will be ineffective in ensuring that the students of deprived background are even called to appear for viva. The UGC notification will act to erase the gains of the iconic deprivation point model, which has ensured the entry of female students in large numbers in JNU, along with the students from the most deprived regions and sections of this country. The current administration is hell bent in undoing all these gains with the pretext of this notification.
The VC is not only desperate in bringing in the UGC notification but also suppressing each and every voice of protest against his dictatorial functioning. One fellow student activist Dileep Yadav started an indefinite hunger strike against the UGC notification demanding reduction of viva weightage. Rather than listening to the valid demands of his hunger strike, the VC forcibly removed him from the hunger strike spot. We must all unitedly tell the VC that this is not how we will allow him to derail our struggles.
Intensify the struggle to defend an inclusive admission policy against the imposition of UGC notification: The student community of JNU has consistently fought to make this university a democratic and inclusive space. This time too we must fight back and build up a massive resistance against the entire anti-student, anti-research agenda of UGC notification and VC’s gameplan to destroy JNU’s admission policy and JNU’s inclusive democratic ethos. JNUSU appeals to the student community to join the Juloos and Indefinite Hunger Strike from 30 Jan and other deliberative and Protest actions.
Students’ Unity Long Live! We Shall Fight! We Shall Win!!