Thapar University (TU) has listed its endeavour to improve the standards of the institute and its students as one of the reasons behind abolishing the 50% quota for students from Punjab. But if one looks at TU's admission procedure, the argument seems to be just a bluff.
Initially, for first-semester admissions in undergraduate engineering courses, the university goes by performance in the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE). Then, in December, it conducts its own entrance test for an "alternative semester" to fill seats that are vacated by students admitted through AIEEE.
The cut-off in this special admission test is merely 20% for general category and just 15% for aspirants from Scheduled Castes and Tribes (SCs/STs).
A copy of the minutes of a meeting of the TU Board of Governors (BoG) shows that the nod for this "special admission process" was given on June 30, 2009. It said that any student admitted in the first semester of an undergraduate programme in any recognised college or university could apply to get admission in TU instead, and would have to take the entrance test in December.
The aim of such admissions is to cut losses. In fact, at the meeting, the director of the institute cited "loss to the university because some students leave seats" as the reason behind the special policy.
Under this scheme, TU admitted 91 students in 2010-11 and at least 30 in 2011-12 in different streams. All efforts to get a response from TU officials proved futile. HT tried to contact the chairman of the BoG, Sudhir Mohan Trehan, but he remained unavailable.
Students hold dharna
Activists of the Youth Organization of India (YOI) blocked the main gates of TU campus for nearly two hours on Thursday. "This is just the first step. If the Punjab quota is not restored, we will block all entries to the institute," said YOI leader Rajwinder Singh Dhanaula. Also on a dharna outside the TU gates, Harpal Singh, former president of Congress' wing National Students' Union of India (NSUI), got the support of the Patiala block Congress president Prem Kishan Puri and general secretary Gopal Singla. Patiala district truck union president Harvinder Singh also sat on dharna with Harpal on Thursday.
TU has turned purely commercial, says former GNDU VC
A former vice chancellor (VC) of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar, Dr SP Singh has said that Thapar University (TU) had become a "purely commercial institute" and deviated from its very purpose ever since the state government gave "full-fledged powers" to its management.
"Garnering monetary benefits is the only reason TU has abolished quota for Punjab students. And I know that the University Grants Commission (UGC) never gives any orders of abolishing quota for a particular section. It only issues recommendations," claimed Singh, who also heads the committee formed by the Punjab government to suggest reforms in higher education in the state.
TU has cited UGC norms as the reason for abolition of the quota. "There are a lot of institutes that give preference to the students of the particular area in which the institute is situated. I don't know what is wrong with TU," said the former VC.
State to write to varsity again
The Punjab government will again write to the chairman of the Board of Governors (BoG) of Thapar University (TU), asking for restoration of the Punjab quota.
"Our first aim is to resolve the issue amicably, but we have kept all our legal and other options open," said principal secretary, technical education, SS Channi.
Channi said he would send a letter to TU BoG chairman Sudhir Mohan Trehan on Friday. Trehan is expected to arrive back in the country by the weekend.