JNU VC misleads media on research vacancies: Ayesha Kidwai

Guest post by AYESHA KIDWAI
The JNU VC has fed this information to the Times of India. The title of the table below, published in the Times of India, should be Get the Numbers WRONG, as barring two rows, all the numbers are incorrect. And the interpretation that our VC gives to these numbers is even WRONGER!

First of all, JNU has no exclusively M.Phil. intake at all. It either admits students to an integrated M.Phil./PhD or a Direct PhD programme. As per the 142nd Academic Council, the approved intake for the M.Phil./PhD programme for 2017-18 is 1072. Everybody in the combined M.Phil./PhD programme will enter at the M.Phil. level, this figure of 1072 is much less than the 1345 (sum up Row 1) allowed by the UGC Regulations 2016.

The conclusion: THE NUMBER OF JNU STUDENTS IN M.PHIL. DO NOT EXCEED THE BOUNDS DEFINED BY THE UGC REGULATIONS 2016.

Second, as per the 142nd Academic Council, the approved intake for the Direct PhD programme for 2017-18 is 178, a figure which is just a fraction of the 3894 students allowed by the UGC Regulations 2016. Assuming that every year, 1072 students from M.Phil. get added as well to the PhD programme from the previous year’s integrated M.Phil./PhD programme as well, the fact is that every year just 1250 students start working for the PhD degree, i.e. just a third of the 3894 PhD scholars allowed each year.

The conclusion: THE NUMBER OF JNU STUDENTS IN PHD DO NOT EXCEED THE BOUNDS DEFINED BY THE UGC REGULATIONS 2016.

The only argument for reducing intake is therefore the caps on research students that were first introduced by the UGC 2009 Regulations and then repeated in 2016, whereby a Professor can guide a maximum of 8 PhDs and 3 MPhils, an Associate Professor can guide 6 PhDs and 2 M.Phils, and an Assistant Professor, 4 PhDs and 1 M.Phil. In a combined M.Phil./PhD integrated programme, it makes sense then to look at the PhD data in the table rather than the MPhil.

And what does one see there?

NO VIOLATION OF THE UGC REGULATIONS AT ALL (look at the first two rows in the PhD section): ALL THREE CATEGORIES IN JNU HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY LESS NUMBER THAN THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF SCHOLARS IN EACH. For example, where Assistant Professors as a group could have 636 students, JNU’s data indicates that they are only 534 PhD students enrolled.

With the case for an intake reduction disappearing, enter the VC as Robin Hood, trailing behind a shifting goalpost. The issue is no longer the UGC Regulations 2016 but how there must be an ‘equitable distribution’ of students. This is highly problematic:

Well, first of all, students are not LADDOOS to be distributed amongst the devotees. Students are as actively involved in the choice of supervisor as faculty are, and their decision about supervisors is guided by area of specialisation and topic of research. IS THE GOAL OF THIS REDISTRIBUTION TO ELIMINATE THE STUDENT’S RIGHT TO HAVE A SAY IN THE MATTER?

Second, in a faculty member’s career in the institution, there can be periods in which there are only a few research scholars or even working with her for a variety of reasons — such as engagement in her own research (e.g., writing a book, doing a research project), the demands of university administration, and other factors. CONSIDERATION OF DATA FOR JUST A YEAR OR TWO IS SIMPLY MISLEADING.

Third, should a university administration not be happy that in general, the university faculty, and particularly its professors, are so willing to shoulder the responsibility of research supervision? And SINCE SUPERVISORS ARE FORMALLY ASSIGNED TO STUDENTS BY CENTRES/SCHOOLS/SPECIAL CENTRES, WHERE IS THE QUESTION OF US ‘GRABBING’ STUDENTS?

Last year, in February, JNU teachers were called anti-nationals, living off the taxes paid by the toiling masses. This year, we are being accused of anti-national again – but this time, for working too hard!

Ayesha Kidwai is Professor at JNU and President, JNU Teachers’ Association

3 thoughts on “JNU VC misleads media on research vacancies: Ayesha Kidwai

  1. JANAKI NAIR

    There are a few other things that we as JNU teachers should point out but also reflect on:

    Research supervision here does not cover all that JNU teachers do: there are also centres which are research oriented with no MA programmes; on the other hand, the language school teaches undergraduates as well which involves daily instruction. So research supervision will vary in these instances.

    Science Schools are limited in their intake by the necessary ratio of student to lab space; other schools do not work with the same constraints.

    In some cases, deregistered students continue to meet and discuss their ideas with supervisors but may not be reflected in the overall figures here shown.

    There are independent students, and dependent students with uneven language and other abilities. So supervision likewise is not a one-size-fits-all kind of work.

    This said, all teachers are not blameless in terms of supervision that they willingly accept or equally deliberately decline. Extreme unevenness within centres must be explained, not explained away.

    Student choice/interest can and must be combined with some degree of attention to areas of expertise and equality of distribution, of both dependent and independent students.

  2. K SHESHU BABU

    The ‘ vendetta ‘ of the VC and the right- wing centre well exposed! UGC must enquire the descrepencies and come out with independent report. The whole matter should be probed by judiciary

  3. Dinesh Shah

    It seems JNU VC has done combined M.Phil andpH. D in lying and misinformation. In last two and a half years he is found lacking or short on truth. Why? We fail to understand!!
    Will he give a reply worthy of a VC for this deficiency in him?!

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