Hyderabad: On Tuesday, students at the University of Hyderabad staged a flash protest in front of the administrative building to demand allotment of vacant seats of Masters, M.Phil and PhD courses. The protest was organized by the University Students Union.
Protesters alleged that the University administration was implementing an "undemocratic move" by deliberately not filling up the vacant M.Phil, PhD seats and that the University disregarded the existing practice of giving admissions through waiting lists for vacant seats.
While speaking with Madhyamam, Gopi Swamy, General Secretary of Hyderabad University Students Union said that the administration was "ignorant" when it came to reservation policy and filling vacant seats.
"Almost 143 seats of Masters have been left vacant. 28 Mphil seats are left vacant and around 79 seats are left vacant for PhD. It is a grave insult for the constitutionally assured right of reservation," said Swamy. "We have planned a series of protests and holding massive online protests and Twitter storm to make authorities listen to our proposed demands."
In a statement, the Students Union in Hyderabad University decried the minimum mark criteria set for vacant seats. "The implementation of draconian regulations amidst pandemic was insensitive and discriminatory," the spokesperson said. The Union also alleged that in the first round of interviews, more than 70 vacancies were counted of which 68 belong to the reserved category, and the vacancies only increased in the second list, to over 100 vacant seats.
"Science research scholars of ongoing batches have been already called back to campus facilitating them with the quarantine facility in the newly built hostel in South campus. The university is practising disciplinary hierarchy in calling back research scholars and not considering the academic and personal agonies and anxieties of non-science research scholars," the Students Union statement reads.
However, the Academic Grievance Committee in University asked for time to respond, as it needs to discuss the issues with Vice-Chancellor. On Tuesday evening, student representatives conducted a meeting with Committee.
According to the Union, the administration has failed to give assurance for their proposed demands. Students Union decided to go for indefinite strike from 23rd December onwards until a "satisfactory" decision comes from administration.
Students were conducting virtual protests since Thursday. They have reportedly sent mass emails and tweets to University administration. Some of the other demands put forward by student community included: minimum qualifying mark criteria to be reconsidered and fill all the vacant seats reported in research programmes in all schools without much delay; to reinstate the previously followed 1:6 criteria for admissions in research programme where six students will be interviewed for one vacant seat; to reopen the admission process of Master Students and to fill the vacant seats, the phase-wise reopening of campus; updation of Health Centre and the maintenance of COVID-19 protocols along with a proposed relaxation of semester fee including lab and equipment.
Sources from UoH told Madhyamam that online classes have strengthened digital divide for which they proposed a timely disbursal of digital grant. Apart from this they also revealed the pressure surrounding compulsory attendance, the higher number of live classes, an abundance of academic work and insensitivity shown by certain faculties which have contributed to their frustrations.