Exactly a year after the February 9, 2016 incident, Jawaharlal Nehru University is again facing turbulence. The University has decided to implement the University Grants Commission (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of M.Phil./Ph.D. Degrees) Regulations, 2016 against the wishes of the faculty and students. Students are so vehemently against the notification that when JNUSU conducted a referendum in this regard on February 8, out of the 3,455 students who voted, 3,398 students, i.e., 98.35% students, voted against its implementation. Some students of the University are also on a hunger strike.
The University has already released a list of vacancies available for students, not seats. If the new prospectus of admissions, which will be framed according to the notification, is released, it is believed that revoking the decision will be nearly impossible. Since the prospectus is scheduled to be released any day now, students reached the admin block to meet Milap Punia, the Dean of Admissions, at 11 a.m. today as he had announced that he would be meeting students from each department.
According to a student present at the protest, “He had met the Sociology Department and then refused to meet any more students. So, more students from every department left their classes to surround the admin block and protest. Scuffles between the security and students broke out. It’s a very large student mobilisation; there’s a stampede going on.” Students were then let inside the admin block and Professor Punia addressed them. Another student present at the protest told Campus Watch, “He played with words. When students asked about deprivation points and reservation, he had no answers for it.” Around 400 students are present at the admin block right now. According to our sources, they have decided to not leave till they speak to the VC and get the decision revoked. More and more students are joining them.
If the notification is implemented, the admission criteria will starkly change for the worse, according to most students and teachers. A clause in the notification prescribes that the written exam will be a qualifying round after which the admission will depend solely on the viva voce or the interview. The Abdul Nafey Committee, in its meeting on November 4, 2016, had recommended reducing interview marks after studying admission-related data from 2012-15, since they found the viva voce to be discriminatory. Clause 6.5 of the notification restricts the number of MPhil/PhD scholars that can be mentored by a research supervisor. This will restrict the number of students being admitted in the MPhil/PhD program. According to an MA student of the University, “Last year the intake in CPS for the MPhil/PhD program was of 38 students. This year, there are only 13 vacancies. I wanted to get admission this year, what am I supposed to do now?” The JNU Academic Council also alleged that the procedure for enforcing the notification has been bypassed.
A student of the University told Campus Watch, “The atmosphere of the University has become extremely intense in the past one year. The UGC notification has made it all even more depressing. If this goes on, students will lose faith in the institution itself.”