Hyderabad: Students from the University of Hyderabad began protesting at the varsity’s administration block on Tuesday, demanding that officials fill up seats for M.Phil, PhD and Masters students left vacant in 2020-21.
When members of the Students' Union and other research scholars went to give their representation to the Controller of Examination (CoE), they were locked inside the administration block by security personnel till evening. The students began a sit-in protest there while other students gathered and protested outside the block.
According to the elected representatives of the Students’ Union, the administration has adopted the controversial ‘minimum qualifying criteria’ of the University Grants Commission regulations of 2016 instead of the previously practiced 1:6 criteria for M.Phil/PhD admissions for the academic year 2020-21.
“With the change in procedure – even before the first round of interviews – nearly 70 vacancies were counted of which 68 belonged to the reserved category. At present around 100 M.Phil/PhD seats remain vacant. The minimum qualifying criteria and the hardships inflicted by the ensuing pandemic on the students, mainly from underprivileged communities, has resulted in massive vacancies,” said University of Hyderabad Students' Union president Abhishek Nandan.
Nandan demanded that the administration reinstate the 1: 6 criteria for admission to research programmes where six students will be called for interviews for one vacant seat.
“There is a need for the University to develop a mechanism to fill the vacant seats. We demand the filling up of M.Phil/PhD seats in various departments with students on the waiting list,” the union said in its representation to the CoE.
The students said they will continue their protests until the administration agrees to restart the admission process as demanded.
The students alleged that another 100 seats remained vacant in masters’ programmes across schools. “While the UGC guidelines for the academic calendar specify that the vacant UG and PG seats must be filled till November 30, the university has closed the process on November 19. We are requesting the administration to reopen the admission process for graduate students and fill all the vacant seats by admitting students on waitlist,” said Sirisha, PhD Scholar and member of the Students’ Federation of India.
Other demands being raised by the students include the phase-wise reopening of campus for all the disciplines (presently scholars from science departments and final semester PhD candidates are allowed in the residential campus); addressing the issues concerning online classes and their modalities; stoppage of encroachments and illegal constructions on university land; an upgrade of the health centre and the maintenance of COVID-19 protocols; relaxation of semester fee including lab and equipment charges; addressing the internship issue in Optometry and other departments; cancellation of zero backlog clause in Centre for Integrated Studies; relaxation in mess basis charges and six months extension of time for all M.Phil/PhD candidates among others.
“For the last five days, a large number of students have supported our demands on social media and courtesy the virtual campaign,” said Mrityunjay Pandey, PhD scholar and SFI leader in the varsity.
“The University has relaxed the students from paying the fees in the current semester but has added the same to the fee of the next semester without discounting any amount. We demand the University to not collect any fees for the ongoing semester as no services were available to them and their two semesters were in distance mode without them provided with any hardcopy study material,” the Union stated.