Published: 28th July 2022
Unrest at Osmania University: Students demand PhD admissions start soon, as per old criteria
The last of the PhD admissions took place in 2017 at the university. Students are also upset about the university’s decision to do away with the interview criteria
The students at Osmania University (OU) are demanding that the varsity release a notification for PhD admission immediately. They are also upset about the university’s decision to do away with the interview criteria of the admission process. On July 26, Tuesday, the students called for a bandh but the protests have not ceased till now.
The students have alleged that the university has not released any PhD admission notification for the last five years. A quick peek into the official website of OU confirms that the last of the PhD admissions took place in 2017 at the university. “There have been no PhD admissions in the last six years. So the students are protesting,” said Srisailam Veeramalla, National Executive Council Member of ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) at OU.
The students have formed a Joint Admission Committee (JAC) at the university. Vislavath Ashok Naik, Head of JAC, and a PhD aspirant himself, said, “The Vice-Chancellor has been delaying the admission notice for the last four years. In the first two years, the notice was delayed and not published. Then, there was COVID-19 for the last two years. And this year also there is no notice yet. All the students are asking for the admission notice to be immediately released.”
The students informed that the protest was being staged by all PhD aspirants and that no particular student organisation was involved. However, all the student organisations are supporting the demonstrations. “We will continue to protest till the university releases the PhD admission notification,” Ashok said.
What's new this year?
The issue is not limited only to the delay in admissions. This year, as per many media reports, the university plans to do away with the interview criteria and instead introduce a common entrance test for the PhD admissions. Students have confirmed this as well. The PhD aspirants are demanding that the university release the admission notification, as per the old criteria, which was followed in 2017 and before.
As per a report in Telangana Today, an OU official stated, “When interviews for Group-I recruitment have been done away with, why can’t the PhD admissions be done without interviews? The plan is to do PhD admissions purely on the basis of the merit secured by candidates in the entrance examination. In addition, weightage to marks obtained by candidates during their UG and PG are also being examined to grant PhD admission. There will be no scope for favouritism towards certain students if interviews are removed.”
Though the move seems to be well-intentioned, it has upset the students. The students do not want a purely merit-based criterion for admissions. Additionally, according to another notification mentioned by Telangana Today, the varsity will not consider the UGC (University Grants Commission) NET or SET exam scores under this new criterion.
“There are limited seats for PhD in the university as it is. And there are already many students from the varsity waiting over the years for admission. A common entrance test facilitates students from Open and Distance Learning institutes to opt for admission here. Also, OU and KU (Kakatiya University) are the only two universities in Telangana that offer PhD courses. KU had also delayed the PhD admissions, but it resumed them last year. OU is yet to do so. We thus want the old admission criteria for our students,” says Hari Krishna, a member of AISF (All India Students’ Federation) at OU.
The Vice-Chancellor speaks
EdexLive got in touch with Professor D Ravinder Yadav, Vice-Chancellor of OU, regarding the matter. He said, “PhD isn’t an easy programme. The students have to do extensive research and only after five to six years they can be granted the PhD degree. Since it takes such a long time to complete, we have to wait for three to four years before we can take up a new PhD batch. The vacancies are also limited for PhD scholars in the departments. So previously, we took a bold decision to cancel the PhD admissions for two years. And then COVID-19 came, because of which there was education loss.”
“The students are demanding that a notification be released. And we shall release the notice very soon,” he acknowledged. But he hinted that, at the moment, it does not seem possible. When we asked him what is changing with the new admission criteria, Prof Ravinder declined to answer.
The police stepped in
On the other hand, Ravi Naik, a PhD aspirant, and member of SFI (Students’ Federation of India) said, “Osmania University has received an A+ accreditation from NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council). An A+ accreditation means that the university has to take in PhD admissions every year. This is according to the UGC norms. But Osmania has violated these norms. Its decision to do away with the interview criteria and introduce a common entrance test is also not in sync with the UGC guidelines.”
“They said that the departments do not have vacancies. And professors were retiring every month, so there's a shortage of faculty. We suggested asking alumni professors to rejoin in respective departments to create vacancies and do away with faculty shortages. We also suggested that the government degree lecturers be promoted in time to solve the problem. This is also specified in the UGC guidelines,” he added.
“But the VC and the administration said that they cannot implement these suggestions. They said that they cannot ask alumni professors to join. They also told that we can go and request them, if we like. Now, how can we students take these decisions? How can we ask the professors to rejoin? It is the administration that has to take the necessary steps and get in touch with the retired professors,” Ravi said further.
The PhD aspirant also alleged that the VC was ready to give the students an appointment to discuss the matter. “Last week, on Saturday (July 23), a group of students took a representation to the VC’s office. But they were told that the VC is in a meeting and were asked to wait. They waited for two hours, from 3-5 pm. But the VC did not turn up. When the students demanded to meet the VC, the police was called and they were arrested,” Ravi said. He alleged that students were manhandled, “And because of this incident, a bandh was called on Tuesday to show support for the students,” he stated.
“About 50-100 students had staged the demonstration at the VC’s office. We also called for the bandh because we were unhappy with the VC calling the police to the university. It is a matter between the students and the administration. Why involve the police in it?” asked Naresh, another member of AISF.
“After the bandh, yesterday evening, the VC called a collaborative meeting with the DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police) and the students,” Naresh informed. “The DCP asked the students about their problems and a discussion took place,” Ravi added.
However, the students stated that despite this, there is still no update from the university regarding the admission notice. Hari Krishna said that the protests were still going on. There are, however, no planned strikes and the students are said to be organising programmes as per the demand of the situation. “We are planning to organise a press meet regarding the issue this evening,” Naresh said.