Hyderabad: Students of the English and Foreign Language University (EFLU), Hyderabad, have started an indefinite strike over a new set of rules by the university administration. The EFLU Students’ Union which called for a protest on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, termed the circular anti-student and undemocratic.
In the circular issued by the university, the Registrar has stated six new rules that are made without consulting the students’ council representatives. According to the new circular, candidates who qualify for UGC JRF shall be exempted from appearing in the written component of the entrance test for admission to a PhD programme offered by the university. However, they shall appear for the interview which is for 30 marks. Marks obtained out of 30 shall be calculated to arrive at the score out of 100.
However, there is no explanation of how the score out of 30 will be converted into a score out of 100. According to the students’ union, this rule will also put the non-NET aspirants in a precarious position as they will be expected to score unreasonably high score in the entrance exam.
Students' Union Vice-President Harshal Deshpande told NewsMeter, "The circular has been passed by a standing committee which is not empowered to reform the academic criteria of this campus. The current circular is intended to kill the academic and research atmosphere of not only EFLU but also other public educational institutions in the country. We need a complete rollback of the circular."
The next rule in the circular states that each course cannot have more than 30 students enrolled. It also says that teachers in the same department can offer similar courses to make up for it. This means that the university will either have to cut down the current number of seats or employ more faculty members as currently, most departments are understaffed to execute such a rule.
“This circular is purely arbitrary. It says it is on force from January 20. However, it was only yesterday, January 28, that the students’ union came to know about its existence. The rules came into force without consulting the student’s council. And this is not new in EFLU,” said a member of the student’s council.
With the claim of ensuring academic excellence, the university has also adopted a Bell curve grading system where only 20 per cent of a class will be given A+ and A grade. The circular says similarly only 20 per cent of students in a class will be given O grade. “The new grading system will fail more students. Even if a student scores 80 per cent she will fail if there are some five students with A+. Most rules in the new circular are similar to that of technical institutes like IIT. They are not necessary for social science subjects. These rules only create unnecessary competition and pressure among students in an institution like EFLU,” added a PhD scholar from the university.
The circular further says sit-in examination shall be the major mode of evaluation for all courses from UG to PhD. “This is a very ableist system that does not take into consideration neurodivergent students. Instead of coming up with different modes of evaluation for such students, this system puts undue pressure on them,” the student’s union alleged.
Following the student protest, the EFLU administration has given a temporary stay to the new circular. The stay is untill a new academic council is constituted.
(Image courtesy: Eldhose K Shaji and Vivek Karivellur)