Hyderabad: The University of Hyderabad (UoH) students union started a relay hunger strike after the students did not get a response from the university's administration regarding their demand to remove the minimum marks cut-off for entrance into MPhil and PhD.
On 16 October, the university declared the names of those qualified for the MPhil/PhD interview round. The students then protested the university's decision to implement the minimum marks criteria in the written test without proper consideration which left as many as 71 seats vacant.
The students alleged subversion of the reservation policy in the MPhil and PhD admission procedure. No candidate has been shortlisted for an interview in three departments in which 71 seats were left vacant of which 64 belong to reserved categories. In most of the departments, the number of shortlisted candidates is only near to or slightly more than the number of vacant seats available in those departments. The reason behind this massive seat cuts is university’s decision to adopt a centralised minimum mark criteria; 50 per cent mark for the general/EWS category and a 45 per cent mark for SC/ST/OBC/PWD in entrance examination. Earlier, the candidates were choosen by the 1:6 ratio – where per seat six candidates would be judged through the interview.
“All these rules were brought in deliberately to make higher education a distant dream to the marginalised sections of the society. The students’ union totally condemns this autocratic decision of the administration. We demand the administration to be fair in the interview process by opting for the 1:6 ratio for the available seats,” said M Sree Charan, vice-president, students’ union.
The union has decided to go on an indefinite strike on this issue. “The university has not consulted the students’ union, which is an elected legitimate body, before adopting such a huge step that would affect the future of hundreds of students. The university is attempting to violate the reservation and thereby restrict the entry of Dalit and Bahujan students to this university. We reject this anti-student, anti-reservation policy which is to affect the future of students from rural areas and depressed castes,” said Gopi Swamy, general secretary, students’ union.
“We have even cited examples of how universities, when they adopted for the UGC Regulations 2016 for admission procedure, resulted in massive seat cuts and denial of opportunities. But the officials turned a blind eye to the issue and the vice-chancellor was not even ready to have a discussion. We feel that this is a deliberate attempt to disrupt the social mobility of the students from the marginalised and vulnerable sections of society. As the Central government turned the pandemic into a golden opportunity to implement their regressive policies, the UoH admin is also trying to implement its casteist classist agendas,” said Abhishek Nandan, president, students union.
On Saturday the university said that, “The academic council decided to adopt these guidelines for admission after some students brought to light how some departments are not following the norms of the university and denying admission to some students. The grievance committee asked the departments and schools to strictly follow the norms and guidelines of the UGC and the academic council adopted the resolution accordingly,” 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 the 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. The prospectus already contains all these points but the student bodies did not raise this issue anytime in the last few months,” said professor Vinod Pavarala.