The PhD students of Bangalore University post-graduation and research scholars federation staged a protest, on Monday, at the university’s administrative office. The PhD students were angry with the administration under Vice Chancellor (VC) KR Venugopal. And they took out slogans condemning him.
During the protest, the students asked that PhD vacancies be filled, and for a reduction in base minimum marks and cut-off % for SC (Scheduled Caste)/ST(Scheduled Tribe) and OBC (Other Backward Classes) candidates, among other demands.
The students allege that the university has violated the UGC guidelines this year by setting the cut-off limit for SC/ST and OBC, the same as it is for General Merit (GM) at 55%. Other universities like Mysore University and Karnataka University set the cut off at 55% for GM, 50% for OBC and 45% for SC/ST candidates. The students say that this was being followed till recently, but has been changed this time and demand it be revoked.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines says “A relaxation of 5% of marks, from 55% to 50%, or an equivalent relaxation of grade, may be allowed for those belonging to SC/ST/OBC (non-creamy layer).”
The PhD notification was last released in 2018, which was also confirmed by an official of Bangalore university, who wished to be anonymous. Since 2018 the admission process hasn’t been completed according to the students and they claim that there is a vacancy of 300 which needs to be filled.
The official however says that the vacancies occurred because of scholars finishing their PhD courses. “The last notification was in 2018 and from then on vacancies have been created. It can only be filled with a new notification,” says the official.
The students ask that the VC allow a few of the professors, who are to retire in a year, to take on new PhD candidates to guide. They say while the official UGC guidelines say that professors who have six months or less on their tenure aren’t allowed to take on new students to guide, the VC has extended it to a year.
They also ask that the VC use his discretionary powers to increase the guideship for all professors by one student, if they are open to it. Another demand they have is to not allow PG students to write the test for PhD eligibility. “The newer syllabus has been a little easier and with the newer grading system these new students have an upper hand compared to older students. This will cheat the older students,” says Lokesh Ram, Secretary of Bangalore University post-graduation and research scholars federation, and a research scholar in the Department of Communication, speaking to TNM
Finally, the PhD students question the reduction in fellowship amount. The scholars allege that the fellowship amount has decreased from Rs 22,000 to Rs 10,000. “This is a huge decrease, from Rs 22,000 all the way down to Rs 10,000. If we ask the VC, he says there is no order from the government to provide Rs 22,000. Now my question is all these years the university has been providing us that much fellowship, and has the government asked the university to reduce the fellowship?” asks Lokesh Ram.