Soon JNU may have 3-4 teachers per student: HC on varsity’s norms for MPhil, PhD courses

The JNU may soon achieve the “unique” status of a university having 3-4 teachers for every student for the manner in which it has “tightened” the norms for admission to MPhil and PhD courses, the Delhi High Court observed today.

Referring to Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) submission that it got 399 students for its MPhil and PhD courses last year when its faculty strength was over 500 teachers, a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla said there were almost two teachers for every student and questioned the logic behind such intake.

“You have tightened your norms, so the intake has dried up. At this rate, JNU is going to be a unique university where there would be three to four teachers for every one student. It is almost two teachers for one student now. What kind of logic is this? There is something wrong,” the court said.

Under the new admission norms, there is a cap on the number of students per research supervisor for MPhil and PhD courses. The slash in the seats because of a UGC regulation had led to a series of agitations in the varsity by the students.

JNU’s lawyer, central government standing counsel Monika Arora, told the bench that the teachers often go on sabbatical or were working on their books or articles and therefore, they do not accept more students. She also said that in some years there was no demand for certain subjects.

Disagreeing with her contentions, the court said “on one hand you don’t want to spend on students, but you are willing to spend on teachers who are willing to live off the fat of the land. Let them go, if they are not going to work.”

The bench also said just because there was no demand for a particular subject in a year, does not mean it has to be shut down. “Academics has to go on,” it said.

The court also questioned the minimum cap set by JNU for the number of students per research supervisor for MPhil and PhD courses in various subjects, saying this will “shut down teaching”.

Arora, thereafter, told the court that currently there were over 4,500 students in MPhil and PhD courses in JNU out of a total of 8,000.

Taking note of the submission, the bench directed the varsity to give a break-up of the actual and sanctioned strength of each of the 13 schools in JNU and the number of research scholars and non-research students in each one of them.

The court directed JNU to give the information in two weeks and reserved its verdict on a plea by the Students Federation of India (SFI) challenging the University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations on the eligibility and manner of admission to MPhil and PhD courses in the country.

The SFI has contended that the Regulations have resulted in a massive cut in seats for the MPhil and PhD courses for the 2017-18 academic year. The seats have come down due to capping of the number of students per research supervisor, the petition has said. It has also said that the cap was put without consulting or informing the students and without improving the infrastructure.

The plea has also challenged various provisions of the Regulations including those laying down a minimum percentage requirement of 55 per cent for general and 50 per cent for reserved categories, as well as the 100 per cent weightage given to viva-voce exam.

The petition has claimed that proper procedure was not followed by JNU while adopting the UGC notification, which capped the number of students per professor for MPhil and PhD courses.

 

(PTI)