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Over 50% JNU research scholars may drop out if ‘roadblocks’ not removed: Survey

PUBLISHED ON SEP 28, 2020 11:33 PM IST

New Delhi:

A survey conducted by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students to understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on research scholars says a substantial percentage of them will drop out of their research programmes during or in the aftermath of the pandemic in case the “roadblocks” they face are not mitigated.

The survey, conducted by three JNU scholars -- Alamu R, Yangchen Roy, and Somashree Das -- covered as many as 530 research scholars, including both MPhil and PhD programmers, in the university. The survey was conducted online between June 27 and July 6.

According to the findings, 53.9% scholars say they would drop out if they are unable to access resources required for research work (primary material/secondary material/lab facility). “More than 40% of the respondents said they would drop out in case of financial distress... if they needed to look for a job to support their families,” it stated.

The university has been physically shut since March in view of the pandemic. The JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) has been demanding a phased return of research scholars to the campus since the last two months.

“Nearly 4 out of 5 (78.1%) research scholars could not carry adequate research-related resources (books, photocopies, readings, notes) from their hostels, library lockers and laboratories back home,” the report stated.

“For research scholars to access the work they have already done, but which is locked up in their hostel rooms and in library carrels, and to access the secondary resources in libraries and archives, universities need to reopen in a staggered or phased manner,” it added.

JNUSU general secretary Satish Yadav said the union has been demanding return of the research scholars to the campus. “We have written to the administration multiple times since July but there is no response. We will hold a press conference on Tuesday to share the issues of students due to the delay in their return,” he said.

JNU teachers’ association (JNUTA) president DK Lobiyal said the administration should allow students to return to the campus in a phased manner, taking all precautions. “Many students are having lots of difficulties in accessing learning material online and attending online classes. There are many students who have to submit to submit their PhD thesis in December. They could not do anything in the last six months. They can come back to the campus and resume their work.They can also attend online classes using their hostel WiFi.”

A senior official at the university, requesting anonymity, said, “The university is yet to take any decision on the return of students at the campus.”

The survey highlighted the digital divide among students and concluded that only 35.8% scholars have access to 4G data speed. “Another 14.9% only have 3G or 2G speed. Those who do not have access to internet services on an everyday basis constitute 8.1% of the sample,” it stated.

The survey reveals prevalence of anxiety among scholars amid the pandemic. “As many as 87.5% of the scholars from the survey reported being anxious since the pandemic began...future prospects and problems pertaining to research work, including stalled fieldwork, were the most prevalent reasons for their anxiety,” it stated.

At least 85.4 % of the scholars said they need a research period extension. “Close to three- fourth (71.9 %) of the scholars said without a research period extension they will not be able to submit their thesis on time,” it said.

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