The full memorandum to the UGC can be found here.
This is to bring to your kind attention the serious violation of the UGC Act of 1956, Jawaharlal Nehru University Act, 1966 and the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation In Admission) Act, 2006 No. 5 of 2007 (hereafter, CEI Act) in the guise of the implementation of the University Grants Commission (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of M.Phil. /Ph.D. Degrees) Regulations, 2016 (hereafter, 2016 Regulations). The arbitrary implementation of the said Regulations has led to the following unwelcome consequences.
I. Intake Reduction/No Intake
The impact of the new admission policy, framed arbitrarily and without the approval of the Academic Council, on the basis of the 2016 Regulation is devastating. The admission policy (dated 21 March 2017) has resulted in 86% decrease in the intake for 2017-18 in the M.Phil./PhD, M.Tech/PhD and Direct PhD programmes in JNU. Many M.Phil./PhD programmes have no admissions in 2017-2018. As of now, many Centres in the university which are exclusively research centres will have no teaching all of next year. The freeze in intake converts “minimum standards of education” into “standards on no education”. It will irretrievably harm the academic programmes that were so far vibrant and academically robust setting higher benchmarks for doctoral research, apart from obliterating the opportunity to higher education for generations of students. If the JNU administration is allowed to continue with such arbitrary unilateralism, research and teaching will suffer irreparably, and thousands of students.
II. Violation of Provisions of Reservation
Clause 5.2.3. and Clause 5.3 of the Regulations reiterate existing reservation policies. Without doubt, the most important provision for reservation was made through the CEI Act 2006, which fixed the minimum intake in all programmes at 54% above the existing intake. Figures of the intake under the Act (covering older Centres), intake approved by the AC (covering old and new Centres/Schools) and those being implemented by the university are given in Annexure 1. It is clear that in its unilateral decision, the University is in grave violation of the CEI Act. In addition to the provisions of reservations, JNU has evolved, over the years, a policy of affirmation action for educationally deprived students from backward regions, and for women students, through the award of deprivation points for students meeting specified and duly approved criteria. The university administration has unilaterally and unreasonably decided not to award deprivation points in the research programmes, when there is nothing in the 2016 Regulations that proscribes their application.
III. Violation of the University Act and Principles of Autonomy
The University Act provides for discussion and decision-making in the various bodies of the University, through a well laid out process of consultation. In the past, all UGC Regulations have been adopted by the university through this process, thus ensuring consistency with all other provisions.
i. There are provisions in the Regulations which need be interpreted properly in the light of the distinctiveness in the nature of the university and the courses that it runs,
ii. There are specific provisions, where the UGC Regulation specifically requires that procedures be discussed and finalised by university bodies.
iii. There are provisions in the Act, which have to be carefully moulded into the universities existing decision-making structure (for example the role of the Committee on Advanced Studies and Research at the School level and the RACs proposed in the Regulation).
However, in the implementation of the 2016 Regulations, the university has unilaterally imposed its own interpretation of specific clauses, which in our view are not tenable and is in violation of the University Act, which the Vice Chancellor is required to uphold.
III. Erroneous Interpretation of the 2016 Regulation
1. The calculation of the intake by interpreting the UGC Notification to imply that supervisors have to be allocated even while students are doing course work over one year has led to decreasing the mandated supervision for faculty in violation of clause 6.5 of the Regulation.
2. Ignoring that the 2016 Regulation is not retrospective, clause 6.5, which specifies student-teacher ratio, has been applied retrospectively, as research students admitted in the past years are being counted against each faculty.
3. The Regulations 2016 specify a two-stage process for the entrance examination for research programs, in which qualifying in the written examination is a pre-requisite for appearance in the viva-vice. Nowhere do the Regulations state that the weightage given to the viva voce is to be a 100%, but this is the model the university has adopted.
4. The 2016 Regulation is silent on its impact on the specifics of the Integrated M.Phil./PhD and M.Tech/PhD programme; however, such silence does not imply that the programmes are to be delinked. Yet this move has given rise to a delinking of the integrated M.Tech/PhD programmes without approval by statutory bodies.
IV. An administrative failure in communicating clarifications to and from the UGC
The only clarification received by the faculty, yet to be placed before the Academic Council, does not in fact clarify the issues placed before the UGC through the Vice Chancellor. The said letter which has no date (other than a stamped date 13.2.2017), with a reference number, No. F.1-86/2015 (VIP Ref/PS) and unusual spelling mistakes must be certified by the UGC as an authentic and bonafide document (See Annexure 3). We request you to instruct the JNU Vice-Chancellor to circulate UGC’ communications on all clarifications on the 2016 Regulation, in particular, the UGC clarification on the basis on which admission policy of JNU was announced on 11.2.2017. If no such clarification was announced, this too must be made available in writing.
We believe there is an urgent need for UGC to adopt a procedure to avoid such unilateral interpretations of its Regulations. In the past whenever the UGC has passed an important Regulation, these have been put in the public domain and discussed before adoption. The UGC has also set up various mechanisms (Standing Committees, Review Committees) to resolve anomalies and to make Amendments where necessary. The UGC 2016 Regulation can itself be treated as an amendment of the earlier 2009 Regulation. UGC regulations, have, therefore never been cast in stone. Apart from the questions raised in 1 and 2 above, which must be resolved immediately, and which we commented upon clause by clause in Annexure 3, the UGC Regulation also requires some other necessary changes, which are included in Annexure 4. We would urge you to set up a mechanism by which these other necessary changes can be incorporated as soon as possible.
We have come to the UGC, because despite all efforts, at dialogue and persuasion, the clarifications sought by the relevant statutory bodies do not seem to have been placed by the Vice-Chancellor of JNU to the UGC Chairperson. We are also doing this only after our efforts at requisitioning Academic Council—no such meeting has been called this semester—has failed. Further, the Vice-Chancellor in delegating to himself the powers of the Academic Council, has comprehensively violated s. 4 of the JNU Act wherein he is statutorily required to uphold the JNU Act and Statutes. Hence, we are now left with no option but to place a request for clarifications and relaxations at the behest of the JNU teachers and students. Further, we propose a set of amendments to the 2016 Regulations; and seek a series of clarifications and relaxations.
Although our earlier attempts to meet you failed, we come to you with great hope that a rational and reasonable solution to the crisis that has been generated by the JNU administration’s interpretation of the 2016 Regulation will be found. We would be grateful if you would table this memorandum for consideration by all members present at the meeting of the full Commission, as the issues we raise have importance far beyond JNU and shall affect admissions to, and the autonomy of, all universities.
Ayesha Kidwai Mohinder Singh
President, JNUTA Vice-President, JNUTA