Published: 02nd November 2021
Did JNU really 'illegally' recover fellowship money given to non-NET researchers?
The notice that the students have the option to avail the JRF if they opt to refund the amount of non-NET fellowship that they have already received
The Jawaharlal Nehru University on November 1 came out with a statement saying that media reports on the varsity seeking recovery of non-NET fellowships are "misleading". But the students are still alleging that the JNU administration is illegally asking for recovery of the non-NET fellowships where it shouldn't.
The notice mentioned that the varsity "disburses non-NET fellowships to the students of MPhil or PhD programmes as per guidelines prescribed by the University Grants Commission (UGC)". While the notice did not say that they are not indulging in the recovery of the fellowships, it said that the students have the option to avail of the Junior Research Fellowship if they opt to refund the amount of non-NET fellowship that they have already received. Well, that's logical. But if students have availed non-NET fellowships for their MPhil, should they be giving that back if they get a JRF during their PhD? Especially considering both of these being separate programmes. That's the question students are asking.
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Saket Moon, the Vice-President of teh JNUSU said that a student who availed the non-NET fellowship for their MPhil has been asked to return it to avail the JRF stipend for his PhD. "The students have received Rs 5,000 for the two years of their MPhil. That makes it a total of Rs 1.2 lakh. How can they return it at one go and till the point that they can manage to pay it back the administration is not uploading their documents on the UGC portal so that they don't get that fellowship. How is this possible?" asked Saket.
The students, upon request by the UGC, had done a survey among those who have been asked to pay back the non-NET fellowship. "The survey found out that the JNU Administration, by violating UGC guidelines have extracted an average of 40-50K and in some cases Rs 1 lakh from students unnecessarily," the students claimed to have told the UGC, who asked the JNUSU to send the details of the affected students with an assurance that they will look into it on an urgent basis.
But the students said that the issue is mostly with the university rather than the UGC. "The administration is asking for the money. The UGC is not. They have even threatened a student who spoke to the media. Once the UGC fellowships start, they (administration) cannot do anything. The money comes to us directly. But they are not even unloading the necessary documents saying that we are bonafide students," said another student.
We have reached out to the JNU administration on this issue but have not received a reply yet. This copy will be updated as, when and if they reply.