Published: 20th February 2020
Did UoH deny admission to marginalised toppers by cutting marks in the interview round?
The ASA also claims that a student was denied admission despite being the only candidate in the reserved category and another student had topped the exam but wasn't given a seat either
Topper in the entrance exam, but 'not satisfactory' in the interview. After this happened to three students, the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) has accused the Univerity of Hyderabad administration of practising caste-based discrimination during the admission process and held a protest in this regard on Thursday. Based on information accessed using RTI, despite scoring high marks in the entrance exams, the ASA claims that the administration is failing to give "appropriate marks" in the interview to candidates from specific castes — thus depriving them of admission in the course. The ASA members went on protest today in front of the University's Education Department.
According to Iniyavan Banumathi, the President of ASA, candidates who had applied to the Department of Education had been confused as to why they had not been given a seat despite the fact that they had performed well. Thus, the ASA decided to file an RTI to find out the marks of the candidates who had applied. "We found out from the RTI that even the students who had topped the entrance exam had not secured a seat and they had not been allotted any interview marks, just the words 'not satisfactory' has been mentioned," he explained.
The ASA also claims that a student was denied admission despite being the only candidate in the reserved category and another student had topped the exam but wasn't given a seat either. "Against both their names it just said 'not satisfactory' Both these students belong to the Muslim community. This seems to speak up about the anti-Muslim agenda of the department where meritorious Dalit-Muslim students are not being allowed to enter this university," the ASA said in a statement.
When we got in touch with the UoH administration, the spokesperson said that they had recieved petitions from groups and individuals regarding the admission of certain candidates. "Some candidates wanted to know why they had not been selected. There is one particular case that the students had been protesting about, so the grievance committee reviewed the case and only then decided that the candidate cannot be given the seat. The board also held a meeting regarding the issue and came up with recommendations on how to better the reservation policy in the University. We will be having a meeting next month and the academic council will consider these recommendations on the larger matter of reservation policy. But regarding the protest today, the Dean has spoken to the students and we will find a way to resolve it," he explained.
In the PhD admissions for Material Engineering, the ASA states that an OBC candidate who had topped the entrance exam was given a single mark in the interview, an SC student who stood at number three was allegedly given just two marks in the interview. "Whereas a non-SC, ST, OBC candidate who stood in the 14th position in the written test was given 25 marks in the interview, which was the highest in marks given in that section. Before this person was 4 OBC, 2 SC candidates as per marks obtained in the entrance exam," the Association said.
The UGC guidelines state that 70 percent is allotted for the written test and 30 percent for the interviews.
After they protested in front of the Department of Education, one of the faculty members told ASA that there had been a mistake, "She said that since they are a new department they did not know that they can't say 'not satisfactory' and that they would rectify the error. But there is a student who has been impacted by this and he deserves justice, so we can't just overlook it because it is a mistake. But the Dean has said he cannot pass any orders but that he would write to the VC and explain the situation," Iniyavan said.
There is a definite pattern that is visible in the way that students are being rejected without being assessed, Iniyavan said. The ASA has been fighting against violations in reservations over the last year in different departments, "There is clear discrimination. So many departments have not filled up their reserved seats despite the fact that capable candidates apply," he says. And that means that the fight is far from over, Iniyavan says, "The administration is testing the waters by doing things like this, they hope nobody will notice. But we do. We have to react and respond to such happenings," he adds.
ASA says that in the English department and the Psychology department, seats had gone vacant. In the former's case, there had been a candidate but they had not been admitted. "If there are vacant seats it is the administration's duty to fill the seats up. We demand that there should be an immediate call for a special drive to fill the reserved seats which are now lying vacant," the ASA said.