Delhi University’s M. Tech Nuclear Science students, who were anticipating a year in Paris as part of their course and expecting a Rs.3,000-monthly stipend for the remaining two years, have nothing to look forward to now. The students say they have ill-qualified teachers from correspondence and undergraduate colleges, and have to share laboratories with students from other batches.

“The previous four batches of the programme spent their second year in France, as listed in the brochure. In fact, in January of our first year [2012] we were all told to apply to the University of Paris. All of us, except one student, got admission letters. We were then told that because of this one student, none of us could go and we would be taught the same things at DU itself,” said a student. The students do not want to be named individually for fear of victimisation.

At this point, the monthly stipend was also not forthcoming.

“The brochure which said the stipend ‘will’ be paid was apparently changed just before we were admitted to ‘might’ be paid,” said another student, adding that they knocked on all the relevant doors but didn’t get any answers.

“We went to the Vice-Chancellor’s durbar on several occasions but we could never meet him. Initially a deputy proctor told us to write a letter and promised to send it to the Vice-Chancellor. The next time we said we wanted to speak to the V-C, Deputy Dean (Academics) R.K Singh told us that we would not get to meet him. This happened again when two students went to meet Dean Students’ Welfare J.M. Khurana, who simply told them that he would not be able to help us,” said another student.

While Mr. Singh could not be contacted despite repeated attempts, Mr. Khurana confirmed having met the students. He said: “I heard them out, but this is not something which my office can help with. I advised them to have their teacher-in-charge meet the V-C and make a representation.”

The students said the person in-charge has been unresponsive from the beginning and it has been upto them to resolve the issue. “We spent three hours sitting outside the Vice-Regal Lodge but the guard barred our entry,” said another student.

Finally, the students took the matter to the High Court and then the Supreme Court. The university, in its submissions to the courts, finally gave them some answers last week, before their petition was dismissed.

The university thought it discriminatory to send only some students to France; it did not want to co-ordinate the same academic programme in two countries; and in light of the declining rupee, it did not have the money to send them to Paris.

However, missing out on Paris is not the sole cause for the students’ concern. “They told us our course would be conducted by teachers experienced in the department of atomic energy, but we heard that there is just one qualified member, from a research centre in Mumbai, who will visit for a month. The classes we attended this term are being conducted by an undergraduate teacher from Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College, who is ill-equipped to teach us plasma physics, and we have another teacher who has taught correspondence courses at Indira Gandhi National Open University. Some of those teaching us are even Ph.D. students from the department. Our laboratory is shared with the third-year students, who have just returned from France.”

More than anything else, the students are angry with the university for its indifference. “The course is conducted by the Department of Physics and Astrophysics; there are about 14 seats for this course, which was started in 2008 after the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal to provide manpower for atomic plants. Admissions are through an entrance test conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology, followed by an interview. Our batch had 10 people, we worked hard to get into this course and we expected something better than this.”