The Dr B R Ambedkar Open University (BRAOU) is facing flak from students and activists after it reportedly decided to drop Urdu as a medium of instruction for bachelor courses.
On March 26, thousands of students even took their Eligibility Test (Phase-I) for Telugu, Urdu and English medium Undergraduate courses from 119 study centres in Telangana and 92 centres in Andhra Pradesh.
Admissions began from June 29 for those who cleared the eligibility tests. But students said that those who opted to study BA in Urdu medium were in for a shock after they were only allowed to select English or Telugu as their medium of education.
Thousands of students from across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh would have no other choice but to drop out from the courses, activists allege.
"Now that the university has suddenly decided to discontinue its Urdu medium courses, I am left in the lurch. Right now, admissions to bachelor's courses are on, but I can't join. I am forced to drop a year," Azhar, one of the students who qualified the Eligibility Test told TOI.
A counsellor with a BRAOU study centre in Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh told TNIE that in two centres, almost 60 students take up Urdu and this time they are very worried about their future prospects.
"This high-handed conduct of the BRAOU has infringed the fundamental and basic right of access to education of hapless students, especially women who are drop outs and had high hopes of getting a degree and becoming empowered," activist Lubna Sarwath, said in a statement.
"Additionally, female students faced a lot of embarrassment before their family members as they resisted and fought to come out of their houses and study to empower their lives," she added.
Activists have now demanded that BRAOU should reinstate Urdu medium for all courses so that students who passed the eligibility test can take admissions immediately.
They also demanded that BRAOU should pay compensation to the students, especially women, who faced mental agony and stress.
Meanwhile, the University has defended the move.
Speaking to Hans India, Director of Academics, Dr Bhanouth Lal said that the admissions into Urdu medium BA course had been kept in abeyance as they do not have the required faculty.
He also claimed that there was a shortage of Urdu teaching staff, as many of the existing ones had retired.
Speaking to Telangana Today, a senior official from the university claimed that they did not have enough students enrolling in the course, adding that they intended to sign a memorandum of understanding with Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) for courses in Urdu medium.
"MANUU has good facilities, course material and faculty members. The university is planning to sign a MoU soon and offer courses in Urdu medium from next year likely," the official told the newspaper.