Published: 11th September 2021
'Armchair critics' projecting negative image of the university, alleges JNU Vice-Chancellor
He said decisions in the university are taken collectively by the statutory bodies and their criticism is affecting its image
Jawaharlal Nehru University vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar on Friday dubbed a section of teachers, who alleged lack of substantial discussion in council meetings, "armchair critics" and accused them of projecting a negative image of the institute.
He said decisions in the university are taken collectively by the statutory bodies and their criticism is affecting its image. About the university retaining the second position in the NIRF rankings released by the Education Ministry on Thursday, Kumar said the perception rating is going up.
In 2019, the university's perception rating was 55.27, in 2020 rose to 67.24 and this year it has gone up to 67.84. Institutes are evaluated on five broad generic groups of parameters, including perception. The ranks are given on the basis of the total sum of marks assigned for each of these parameters.
"This has been possible because a majority of faculty and students are focussed on achieving academic excellence. There are a few faculty members who are trying to create a negative image of the university which is very very unfortunate," Kumar told PTI.
The vice-chancellor's remarks came in the wake of allegations by the Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers' Association (JNUTA) that no substantial discussion was allowed in Executive Council meetings. The teachers' body was also critical of the approval of the decision to establish a medical school in the university.
Responding to the criticisms, Kumar said, "Whether it's the establishment of a medical school or the counter-terrorism course which had come in for criticism, all the decisions are discussed by the academic council and executive council. Any criticism to them is unfounded. A lot of groundwork has been done for the medical school. This is also in tune with the statutes of the university which say that the varsity shall confer degrees in various areas and one of them shall be doctor of medicine. If some people are opposing it they are actually opposing the statutes of the varsity," he said.
The JNUTA has alleged that at the Executive Council meeting nod was given to starting of new undergraduate programmes with provisions of granting certificate, diploma, advanced diploma, graduate and post-graduate degrees to students exiting at different stages of their course.
They claimed that this would destroy the post-graduate research character of the university. In response, the vice-chancellor said that "few of our colleagues are trying to pull down the image of the university" and termed them "armchair critics".
"There are some negative minded people opposed to the implementation of the New Education Policy and undergraduate courses. We already have several undergraduate courses running in the School of Languages. These teachers might be unwilling to take additional teaching load, which is why they are critical of the new undergraduate courses," Kumar said. "The small number of people are saying that the land is in a green zone and you cannot do a lot of construction. We have a vision plan and we have earmarked more than 200 acres of the land for the buildings. Are they opposing the vision of the varsity?" he posed.
About the allegations that no discussion is being allowed in the council meetings, the vice-chancellor of JNU said all the decisions are discussed in the Academic Council and Executive Council of the university. The Academic Council consists of representatives of the university and even an external member and there issues are discussed. Then the issues are discussed and approved in the Executive Council. "Once the top statutory bodies approve, everyone should follow," Kumar said.
About a section of teachers expressing reservation about the implementation of the National Education Policy by the university, the vice-chancellor said, "When the entire country is going ahead, how this small section of teachers should go against its implementation? The apex committee of the university consists of 18 members and is headed by Professor Mazhar Asif who was also part of the draft NEP committee. Based on the panel's recommendations, a number of undergraduate programmes -- Centre for professional and career counselling, centre for artificial intelligence and Centre for mathematical sciences, which is very essential, school of library and information sciences -- were decided upon. We already have undergraduate programmes. Now we have introduced undergraduate programmes in the schools of engineering and ayurveda biology. The undergraduate programmes are for four years. The allegation of destroying JNU's research character is unfounded. Top IITs have half the UG population and they are known for their research," Kumar said.
He said the "negative minded" people may not be willing to teach undergraduate students. "They may think that there is going to be additional load. Their criticism is motivated. The university will start many undergraduate programmes they will enrich research culture," Kumar added.