Tamil Nadu

Students slam change in admission criteria for Ph.D programmes at Pondicherry varsity

A change in the criteria for admission to Ph.D programmes at the Pondicherry Central University has been condemned by the student community for being “exclusionary” and “discriminatory” towards candidates from underprivileged sections of society.

In a key change in admission policy, reflected in the university prospectus for 2020-21, the entrance test has been waived only for candidates who have qualified in the National Eligibility Test conducted by the UGC/CSIR or any other national-level examination recognised by the university as equivalent, and have been awarded a Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) to pursue a PhD programme. In a departure from the practice followed earlier, the amendment excludes admission (without test) for candidates with the UGC Rajiv Gandhi Fellowship for SC/ST or DBT-BINC or the Maulana Azad Fellowship for minorities or DST-INSPIRE.

The Students’ Council of Pondicherry University has petitioned the authorities to revoke the amendment to the Ph.D admission norms and to include NFSC, NFST, MANF, NFOBC and other fellowship categories for PhD admissions. “It is especially disconcerting that a change that has such important consequences for students, especially for those from underprivileged sections, was quietly implemented without any consultation with stakeholders,” Parichay Yadav, president of the council, said.

Contending that this was a violation of reservation policy, the council said students with NFSC/NFST and MANF were being asked to write an entrance test, while their scholarships were being de-recognised. It stated that in departments like Anthropology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Social Work and Tourism, seats were reserved only for JRF candidates, and excluding NFSC, NFST and MANF, which are equivalent to JRF, showed the “anti-reservation attitude of the administration”.

University authorities said the change was based on a stipulation by the UGC to restrict exemptions from entrance tests to fellowships that involve an entrance test. It was aimed at increasing quality control in Ph.D programmes run by higher learning institutions across the country, they said.

“No candidate who comes with a UGC-stipulated qualification would be subjected to another examination. Other candidates can still get in by taking a national-level entrance test conducted by the university, which is another stipulation of the UGC,” a spokesperson for the university said.

However, the official agreed that as a result of the UGC stipulation, there were likely to be several fellowships that don’t make the cut for exemption from the entrance test.

The university also denied the allegation that the change to the admission criteria diluted its reservation policy. “As a Central University, we are governed by statutory provisions regarding reservation, and we have an unwavering commitment to adhere to it,” an official said.

“The university has been admitting around 300 candidates to PhD programmes annually, and roughly half of them are filled on the basis of reservation,” the official said.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 12:31:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/students-slam-change-in-admission-criteria-for-phd-programmes-at-pondicherry-varsity/article32397943.ece

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