Students and teachers of the department of Physics and Astrophysics are worried.
With the university’s licence to use radioactive material at stake, the fate of two courses—M Tech in Nuclear Science and Technology and MSc in Physics (nuclear science)—is in jeopardy.
On Thursday, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Body (AERB) served Delhi University (DU) with a showcause notice and gave them two weeks to explain why their licence should not be cancelled. If cancelled, nearly 300 students enrolled in both courses will be affected.
DU is among the few institutions in India, which offer programmes in nuclear science. It possibly produces the largest number of students specialising in this area.
While the MSc programme is nearly 40 years old and offers 16 seats in nuclear science specialisation each year, the M Tech course has been around for just two years and takes in 14 students every year. Both are three-year-long programmes.
“The licence is important to us. We can’t conduct our practicals (experiments) without radioactive sources. I don’t see how we can continue the course without the licence,” said a professor who teaches the MTech programme.
“Its not just students studying nuclear science who will be affected. All first year MSc students (about 300 each year), irrespective of their specialization, conduct experiments using radioactive sources. What about them?” asked another professor of the department requesting anonymity.
Students are even more apprehensive.
“DU is one of the most sought after institutions for nuclear physics. You will find some of the brightest students here. It’s unfair that we should suffer because of an act of ignorance committed by faculty members of another department,” said a student studying MTech Nuclear Science and Technology who did not wish to be identified.
Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental, however, is hopeful that the regulatory board will not take such a harsh action against the university.
“I have full faith in the AERB. They will not be interested in hitting the university in terms of our academics and research activities,” he said.