Hyderabad: On 17 October, the University of Hyderabad (UoH) students union staged a protest after names of those qualified for the MPhil/PhD interview round were declared. They raised an issue with the university implementing the minimum marks criteria in the written test without proper consideration.
The UoH, from this academic year, had set up a rule by which students who would score more than 50 per cent marks in the general category and 45 per cent marks in the reserved category can sit for the MPhil/PhD interview.
Later, citing the UGC guidelines of 2016, the university called the students for the interview. Earlier, in the ratio of 1:6 – where per seat six candidates would be judged through the interview. But the guidelines for minimum marks criteria have not been maintained, the students alleged, and demanded that the cut-off marks for MPhil and PhD seats be removed.
“Some departments set objective question paper with negative marking while some did not have negative marking. Some departments set a descriptive question paper and some both objective and subjective, and this is why it is not fair to have a common minimum marks criteria,” the union said.
Due to the minimum marks criteria, the university has called fewer students for various departments. For example, for three departments, which have around 71 MPhil/PhD seats, the university has not called a single student for the interview, and out of these 71 seats, 64 are for the reserved category.
“The administration left out 71 seats vacant even before the interview citing the UGC guidelines of 2016 which is discriminatory; 50 per cent marks for general and 45 per cent for SC, ST, OBC and minorities. Now, 64 reserved category seats are left vacant and are likely to increase after the interview,” said Gopi Swamy, general secretary, students’ union.
Students are calling this process undemocratic. “Before taking this step, which adversely affects the new students, the students union was not consulted, and through this atrocious clause the university is trying to violate the reservation process and thereby restricting the entry of Dalit and Bahujan students into this so-called institution of eminence. We reject this anti-student and anti-reservation policy which affects the rural, regional and depressed castes and we demand to implement the 1:6 ratio and to remove the cut-off marks for MPhil and PhD seats,” he added.
Students Union alleges that it’s a mockery of the constitutional values of reservation and a jeering at the concept of social justice itself. “We have detailed why a centralised criteria is inappropriate and exclusionary. We feel that this is a deliberate attempt to disrupt the social mobility of the students from marginalised and vulnerable sections of society. This will result in turning the university as an inaccessible space for students who do not belong to the privileged sections We demand that candidates should be called in 1:6 proportion and no seat shall remain vacant” said, Abhishek Nandan, President, Students’ Union.
The students are calling this step by the university vague as there is no single process by which the marks will be calculated, and said that this will only further exclude and discriminate the marginalised.
The university clarifying the issue said that, “The academic council decided to adopt the guidelines for admission after students brought of issues to the grievance committee where they found some departments are using discretion and not following the norms of the university and denying admission to some students. The grievance committee gave a setup of recommendation, asking the departments and schools to strictly follow norms and guidelines of UGC so that the students will not be denied admission, and academic council adopted the resolution,” said Professor Vinod Pavarala, Spokesperson, University of Hyderabad.
The university also said that following today’s protest the university has referred the matter to the grievance committee, which will be chaired by Pro Vice Chancellor. “These are very general issues, which cannot be raised a day before the interview, the students should bring up the issue to the proper forum, if there is unfairness, they should bring to the grievance committee. The prospectus has all these points, student bodies did not raise this issue anytime in the last few months,” said Professor Vinod Pavarala.
Apart from the students’ union, other student organisations are also protesting on this issue. “This should have a long term implication for which a committee must be formed and this sort of discriminatory circulars must not happen in the future again,” said Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad in its statement.