Covid-19 impact: Social sciences students stare at bleak placement season

Published on Feb 27, 2021 11:55 PM IST

Students from social sciences courses in the city are facing a bleak placement season this year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. (HT FILE)
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. (HT FILE)
ByPriyanka Sahoo, Mumbai

Students from social sciences courses in the city are facing a bleak placement season this year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai did not hold the placement week, which is a central process for recruitment of students, this year. However, the placement drive is taking place online at the convenience of recruiters, said Asha Banu, dean of student affairs, TISS, who looks after placements.

“Earlier, recruiters would give us a commitment that they would visit the campus for placements on a certain date. This year, however, everything seems to be in flux as recruiters decide their priorities,” said Banu. This year, many recruiters have decided to take in students through off-campus placement or online mode.

A student of TISS, on the condition of anonymity, said, “One of the primary attractions for recruiters at TISS is the field action project that all students do. This is one place where they can find students with previous experience on field. This year that has been an issue with recruiters.”

Field Action Projects (FAP) are undertaken by students of TISS every year where they demonstrate new interventions; respond to new needs and changing social realities; provide field experience and training to students and faculty members; evolve new strategies for intervention; and develop indigenous data base literature for training. However, owing to Covid-19, students have been asked to engage in an FAP in their hometowns.

At the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), humanities students also participate in the central placement drive. However, students said that not many are placed through the drive. “While some MPhil students are able to get placements, most PhD researchers apply for postdoc positions,” said a second-year humanities student from IIT-B.

The institute recently tweaked its policy allowing its own PhD holders to apply for positions as post-doctoral fellows at the institute. Earlier, PhD scholars from the institute were not allowed to apply for post-doctoral positions.

An official from the institute said the decision to tweak this policy was based on the fact that candidates from outside the institute could not join owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, sources said this could be because not many PhD scholars are able to secure a post-doctoral position in another institute. “For humanities students, the situation is tougher. With fund cuts in most central universities, the number of post-doctoral positions has reduced. Covid-19 has further reduced our chances of job prospects,” said the student.

Shantanu Rooj, founder and chief executive officer of recruiting consultancy TeamLease Edtech, said, “The impact of Covid-19 has been different for different courses. Courses such as political sciences, economics and psychology saw an uptick in job prospects as organisations are now looking for data interpreters and social scientists. However, on the other hand, courses that require field work such as geography, history and social work have seen a downward trend.”

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