Revoke The UGC Gazette Notification; CPI(M) Demands In Rajya Sabha

Ritabrata Banerjee, a CPI(M) MP in Rajya Sabha from West Bengal on Wenesday raised the issue of UGC Gazette notification and its impact on MPhil/PhD admissions in JNU and other universities, during the zero hour. Banerjee has demanded the immediate revoking of UGC Gazette notification and accused the notification to be a “one-size-fit-all” model.

Excerpts from Ritabrata Banerjee’s speech in Rajya Sabha : 

” I am raising the issue of grievous implications of blanket imposition of the 5 May 2016 UGC Notification on Admissions for in M.Phil. /PhD. Programmes in Universities like JNU and demand its revocation.

JNU’s present admission policy has several unique features for ensuring social inclusion and academic rigour. JNU students have also fought for newer provisions like reduction in viva weightage and Prof. Nafey Committee has also recommended the same. In fact, with all these features, JNU’s admission policy for M. Phil/PhD. admissions already addresses all due concerns for “quality” along with “social justice” and “social inclusion”, far more effectively than the UGC notification. In this context, such arbitrary imposition of the UGC Notification, which is essentially a “one-size-fit-all” model, has several detrimental effects.

The 5th May 2016 UGC notification, far from being a “guideline,” is in effect a “straightjacket” with rigid examination criteria, admission rules and the criteria for the eligibility of research supervision, which grossly compromises the autonomy of universities, particularly those like JNU which are already following a rigorous and far more socially inclusive admission policy evolved through decades of students’ struggle, dialogue and research, and a rigorous model of time bound, regular system of research evaluation.

In particular, adoption of UGC notification will undermine JNU’s unique and decades-old deprivation point system in admissions, the Prof. Nafey Committee Recommendations (obtained after years of felt need and struggle) to reduce Viva weightage in M.Phil. /PhD. admissions and other specific provisions which have made JNU one of best universities in the world in terms of inclusive social composition and academic rigour and quality.

It is important to note that the current number of seats for M. Phil /Ph.D. in different departments/ centres of JNU has got fixed by the 93rd Constitution Amendment which mandated expansion of seats for implementing OBC reservation during 2008-11. The number of seats since then has remained unchanged.So, it would be a gross violation of the constitution if either the UGC or the JNU administration attempts to curtail existing number of M.Phil./Ph.D. seats in the name of adhering to some specified number of “supervisor/research student” ratio. We believe, UGC should ensure “supervisor/research student” ratio by expanding faculty recruitment in the universities and not through reduction in student intake.

I demand that the UGC Notification of 5th May 2016 be revoked and it should definitely not be forced on universities like JNU – particularly its specific technical clauses- in a blanket fashion as long as the basic concerns of “quality”, “academic rigour” and provisions of “social justice” underlying those technical clauses are fulfilled by the institutions. Universities like JNU must have and should exercise their autonomy in defence of best models of academic excellence and social justice in its admission and research process. I also demand that JNU should be allowed to uphold its institutional autonomy and prepare a robust defence of its present MPhil/PhD admission policy”.

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