Published: 18th December 2020
UoH Students’ Union writes to Academic Council, demands filling of vacant seats, reopening of admissions
The Union wants the Academic Council to consider reopening the admission process for Masters students since the process ended before the deadline
Students of the University of Hyderabad are running an online protest and have written to the Chairperson of the Academic Council to ensure the administration takes all their concerns into consideration at the upcoming Academic Council meeting. The Students’ Union complained that it was not included in the previous Academic Council despite being a ‘legitimate constituent’ of the Council and thus insisted that they be included in the one scheduled for December 22.
The Union’s main concern is seats going vacant after the administration closed admissions without ensuring that seats, especially reserved ones, are filled. In its letter to the Chairperson of the Academic Council, the Union said, “Even before the first round of interviews, more than 70 vacancies were counted of which 68 belong to the reserved category. Even after publishing a second round of interview lists the vacancies didn’t come down, rather the numbers were increased. At present, around 100 seats are vacant in MPhil and PhD programmes together across schools.” The reason why so many seats went vacant this year has been because of the administration’s decision to implement a new minimum qualifying criteria under the UGC Regulations.
“Our university had gone ahead with the entrance examination disregarding the hurdles and impediments of the pandemic and inflicted a double blow by adopting the minimum qualifying mark criteria discounting the inaccessibility, digital divide and other agonies and stress caused by the pandemic. This draconian move has snatched away the opportunities of hundreds of students from underprivileged sections of society,” the Union said. The students said that this was a lesson in why student representatives needed to be included in such crucial decision making. The admission notification for the January session released by the University a couple of days ago shows that 79 vacant seats are being carried forward from the July 2020 session, the students worry that more students will opt out since the University’s admission process ended before the other Universities had even started. So students on the waitlist may have been pushed to forgo that risk.
“MPhil seats which are unfilled is another important problem. January intake is only for PhD seats and our university administration doesn't have any mechanism to fill MPhil seats which are unfilled. The number of vacant seats may increase if other universities announce their entrance exam results. Our university must develop a mechanism to fill all those vacant seats rather than keeping those as vacant. We demand, filling up of MPhil and PhD seats in various departments through waiting list students,” the students have informed the Academic Council. The students have been consistently bringing up the demand to do away with the new qualifying criteria and to ensure admission drives to ensure all the seats are filled up.
Another demand that the Union has raised in their letter is for reinstate the 1:6 criteria for MPhil and PhD seats, an issue that they have been raising over the last few months. “The administration has gone on with the minimum mark criteria without considering the versatile nature of entrance conducted by each department and the hardships inflicted by the pandemic. Which is why we demand to reinstate the previously followed 1:6 criteria for admissions in research programmes where six students will be interviewed for one vacant seat,” the letter stated.
The Union also wants the Academic Council to consider reopening the admission process for Masters students and to fill up the vacant seats, “The master’s programme for the academic year was started on October, 16 and was closed by the administration on November 19. The UGC guidelines clearly stated in the point that to fill up the remaining vacant seats the admission process can be extended till November 31.”
“Our university closed Masters admissions even before many universities and institutes have declared their admission lists and entrance results. As a consequence, the vacancy formed from students dropping out remains vacant and a huge number of aspirants stand outside as the university decided to close the admission procedure. Admissions to Masters programmes happen only once a year and closing admissions prior to the declaration of results by other higher education institutions is nothing less than denying admissions to hundreds of students and also leads to unfulfillment of the reservation policy,” the students said.
Besides these demands, the Union also told the Academic Council the administration was practising ‘disciplinary hierarchy’ by inviting back science research scholars and not doing the same for students from other schools. “We demand the process be speeded up as the scholars have already lost one year and the research batches of 2017 and onwards do not have the luxury of deregistration and thus the University cannot wipe their hands off from the responsibility of facilitating their research with adequate academic environment without any further delay,” they stated.
The digital divide during the pandemic has been an issue that was raised by students across the country and the UoH students also requested the University to do more to bridge the gap. They raised the incident of a student in Telangana whose gadgets exploded during an online class, “There have been numerous grievances from students citing the pressure of compulsory attendance, higher number of live classes, abundance of academic work and insensitivity shown by certain faculties. We request you to kindly ensure the timely disbursal of digital grant and also to ensure that measures are taken to be inclusive and to diminish the digital divide.”
The other demands that the students stressed upon in their letter was to give an extension to all MPhil, PhD scholars due to the impact of the pandemic. They pointed out that scholars did not have proper access to resources during the time. They also asked for the relaxation of the semester fees for lab equipment and other facilities since the classes were held online.