Statement: On the JNU administration’s 17 August circular on intake

On 17 August, the JNU administration issued Guidelines to work out the intake for the research programmes of Centres/Schools. The formula provided will lead once again to extremely low to zero admissions across the university.

These Guidelines should, first of all, immediately convince teachers that the JNU administration has been misleading the JNU community all along, when it has said that the UGC Regulations 2016 need to implemented verbatim and there can be no process of harmonisation with JNU Rules. As can be seen in the formula provided for calculating intake, the JNU administration has sensibly listened to teachers’ suggestions that PhD IV year students and 9(b) students need not be counted. The UGC Regulations 2016 are therefore, the JNU administration admits, not set in stone.

Nevertheless, JNUTA cannot accept the formula for counting intake as yet, for the following reasons:

First of all, the formula circulated has not been passed by the Academic Council of the University, and therefore the proposal is a violation of the JNU Act, 1966, by which it is only the Academic Council of the university that can determine the intake of the university’s Centres and Schools.

Second, since the impact of this formula is intended to be one that will reduce seats for admission, it will lead to egregious violation of the Central Educational Institution (Reservation in Admissions) Act, 2006. It consequently also violates the UGC Regulations 2016, whose Clause 5.2.3 requires adherence to national and state reservation policy.

Third, the suggestion offered by the formula that faculty set to retire by 2020/2021 should not be counted in as potential research supervisors for the calculation of intake is in blatant contravention of the UGC Regulations 2016, which state that any full time regular faculty of the university with a PhD degree can supervise research.

Fourth, the JNUTA does not accept supervision caps for faculty based on rank. Not only are these caps measures that reduce intake, leading to CEI violations, they also severely disadvantage early to mid career teachers in terms of API points vis-a-vis the category of research supervision. Further, the caps are based on a pathological misunderstanding of research: young faculty play perhaps the most important role in catalysing and developing new research, and to starve them of research students is not in the best interests of intellectual inquiry.

Fifth, this formula directly contradicts the JNU administration’s July 14 Circular that announced that the UGC Regulations 2016 would have no retrospective effect. If there is no retrospective application of the IUGC Regulations for students, there can be none for teachers as well, and the supervision counter of all faculty must be set to zero from 2017-18. Consequently, only the numbers of students that faculty are supervising from the 2017-18 batch can be relevant. As the bulk of the research programmes of the university had zero admissions for 2017-18, that zero will carry over for the 2017-18 admissions as well.

Sixth, the formula misreads the UGC guidelines to conclude that intake is to be determined along the sole criterion of availability of research supervision. In fact, the UGC Regulations ask for a simultaneous consideration of the interests of research scholars and other academic and physical facilities available in determining the intake.

Seventh, the formula fails to take into account what an integrated M.Phil./PhD research programme is, by which the number of M.Phil. and PhD students per supervisor should not be treated as completely unrelated numbers. Furthermore, counting both M.Phil. Years I and II as supervision is not only ludicrous, it also makes a mockery of the UGC Regulations themselves, which clearly make obtaining a minimum grade in the coursework an eligibility condition for progressing to the dissertation stage.

The JNUTA counsels the JNU administration not to repeat the mistakes of the 2017-18 admissions, which have had such disastrous consequences in terms of violations of the CEI Act and Constitutional guarantees on reservation. It reiterates the demands made by the members of the 143rd Academic Council that the only way forward is through consultation and discussion. In particular, we draw the JNU administration’s attention once again to the motion moved by more than 40 AC members of 143rd AC, which proposed that a representative Committee of the university be entrusted with the task of examining the manner in which the UGC Regulations 2016 may be adopted through a process of harmonisation with the JNU Act, Statutes, inclusive admission policy, and its character a research university. Although this motion was never discussed in the 143 AC (full text here) a Committee reporting to the AC is the only route forward.

Ayesha Kidwai                             Pradeep Shinde

President                                       Secretary

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