Kerala

Academic objects to circular, quits CUK

Circular moots ‘national priorities’

A circular issued by the Central University of Kerala (CUK), Kasaragod, that discouraged research in ‘irrelevant areas’ and sought to accord sanction for scholarly activities in areas of ‘national priorities’ appears to have struck a wrong chord with the academic community.

Academic Meena T. Pillai, Professor of the Institute of English and Director of the Centre for Cultural Studies, University of Kerala, has resigned from the Board of Studies in English and Comparative Literature in the CUK in protest against the diktat.

‘Limits research’

Stating her objection to the mandate, Dr. Pillai said that the varsity order that limits prospective research to select areas was “highly detrimental to the purpose of higher education in public universities, especially at a time when the spirit of education is increasingly being subsumed to the interests of neo-liberalisation, privatisation and corporatisation.”

Questioning the rationale behind dictating national priorities, she said if the order was implemented, highly valuable research on topics of critique and dissent would not find a voice within the portals of a university. “Research is an act of rigorous scholarly investment, one that is also subjective, and hence the move to dispense with the practice of allowing freedom of choice to students and instead, compelling them to choose from a shelf of projects will ring the death knell of free and committed research in public universities.

The use of the term ‘national priorities’ itself if problematic within academics as it curbs the autonomy of the researcher and compromises the ethics that should form the base of any academic endeavour,” Dr. Pillai stated.

Highlighting UNESCO’s recommendation concerning the status of higher education teaching personnel of 1997, Dr. Pillai said the resolution defined academic freedom as the right to freedom of teaching and research without constriction by any prescribed doctrine, as well as freedom from institutional censorship.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 4:17:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/academic-objects-to-circular-quits-cuk/article26593841.ece

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