Hyderabad: Members of University of Hyderabad Students’ Union and various students organisations launched an indefinite relay hunger strike in campus on October 18. The strike is against the new admission policy, which, students allege, is “discriminatory” and subverts the reservation policy.
On October 16, the university declared the M.Phil and PhD results, calling for students to attend interviews online. The students’ union argues that 71 seats were left vacant, including 64 seats belonging to reserved categories, due to the cut-off criteria.
“The reason behind the massive seat cut is the university’s autocratic decision to adopt a centralised minimum-mark criteria which is 50% marks for the General and Economically Weaker Section category and 45% for SCs, STs,OBCs and Person With Disabilities (PWD) candidates in the entrance examination for Mphil and PhD interviews,” stated a press released by the union.
The union and students organisations, including the Students Federation of India and the Ambedkar Students Association, are demanding that the centralised minimum mark criteria be scrapped and that the previous 1:6 criteria be brought back. According to the formula, the number of candidates shortlisted will be six times the total vacant seats.
“The university has not consulted the Students’ Union – an elected legitimate body – before adopting such a huge step which will affect the future of hundreds of students. The university isattempting to violate reservation and thereby restrict the entry of Dalit and Bahujan students to this so-called ‘institution of eminence’. We reject this anti-student, anti reservation policy put in place to affect the future of students from rural areas and depressed castes. We demand the withdrawal of this minimum qualifying marks criteria and the re-implantation of 1:6 criteria for MPhil and PhD interviews,” said Gopi Swamy, general secretary of the Students’ union.
“We have zeroed-in on this issue and been explaining to the administration how it is going to affect aspirants from weaker and marginalised sections of society. We have detailed why a centralised criteria is inappropriate and exclusionary. We have even cited examples of universities showcasing how the adoption of the UGC Regulations from 2016 in admission resulted in massive seat cuts and denial of opportunities,” said Abhishek Nandan, president of the union. “However, officials turned a blind eye to the issue and the Vice Chancellor was not even ready to have a discussion,” he added.
While the students are planning on intensifying protests against the new admission process, the university administration has begun conducting interviews virtually.
The decision for bringing in centralised minimum mark criteria was taken in the last academic meeting.
“The current state of implementation of reservation by UoH is dismal in numbers of reserved seats left vacant. It should ideally devise admission procedures to facilitate high intake of marginalised students on par with percentage of allotted reservation. We shall stand committed to our struggle for social justice. Saying it again, loud and clear, 'Reservation is our right and not a mercy,” the Ambedkar Students Association reportedly said.