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All systems go at JNU

HT Horizons gives you the low-down on studying at one of Delhi’s top universities reports Rahat Bano

education Updated: Feb 16, 2011 09:14 IST
Rahat Bano

The bell has been sounded and aspirants are making a beeline to apply for a seat in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi. Here’s what you need to know about studying at this institution.

The programmes: The MSc in biotechnology is one of JNU’s most sought-after programmes, apart from MCA and MA in economics. Besides these, the university has a range of courses at the undergraduate, masters, MPhil, PhD and diploma levels, including a few part-time ones and with lateral entry into the second year.

Most bachelors’ degrees, certificates and diplomas are in the languages. There’s also an advanced diploma in mass media in Urdu.

The BA (H) programme of the School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies’ (JNU follows a school system) is part of a five-year MA. On fulfilling some basic requirements, students completing the BA (H) can register for the fourth year of the MA without taking the entrance test again.

Some programmes are offered only after the postgraduate level. For instance, the Centre for Law and Governance doesn’t have masters programmes but MPhil/PhD in law and governance. Similarly, other centres award MPhil/PhD degrees in philosophy, studies in science policy, and in educational studies.

Virtual bridges between its schools and centres make the JNU proposition unique. “JNU has one advantage — the interaction with other departments, whether international studies, languages or sciences, is much more vibrant,” says Dipankar Gupta, an alumnus and voluntarily retired professor of sociology from JNU.

What if a student has to make a choice between JNU and the Delhi University? Though some variations in JNU’s offerings continue to exist vis-à-vis those offered by the Delhi University, Gupta says the differences are narrowing. “In general, there’s a great degree of overlap,” he says.

Another high watermark of the JNU culture is the atmosphere of debate and discussion, though some would say it’s been diluted over the years.
Are you ready?

The university sells previous years’ question papers that can aid your test preparation. Also, volunteer-students provide free coaching for the entrance test over a period of 15 to 20 days — a tradition of the erstwhile JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) being carried forward (there have been no students’ union elections for more than two years). This year, preparatory classes are likely to start in March-end or early-April, informs Shephalika Shekhar, former vice president, JNUSU, pursuing her PhD in Hindi here.

Anyone can join, though preference is given to aspirants from financially weaker backgrounds, she says. In the past, on average, 400-500 contenders signed up for these classes every year, held at the Students’ Activities Centre on the JNU campus. The frequency of classes depends on the number of enrolees, says Shekhar.

How to apply?
JNU selects candidates through entrance tests for various programmes. It also holds a combined test for its biotechnology programme for 30 universities across the country, as well as itself. The admission test for various study programmes and the Combined Biotechnology Entrance Examination on behalf of participating universities is scheduled for May 17, 18, 19 and 20, 2011, at 52 cities in India and one foreign centre in Kathmandu.

Application forms for various programmes are on sale at the university’s Administrative Block till March 10 by post and March 21 by cash. Forms can also be bought through post by writing to Section Officer (Admissions), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi - 110067 before March 10, 2011. The form for the common entrance test for biotechnology is sold through participating universities as well.

For more details, log on to or call 26742676, 26742575, 26741557.