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Jadavpur University VC offers to resign after students protest scrapping admission test

Speculations were rife that the government may engage an external agency to conduct the admission process.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2018 23:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Jadavpur University,JU,Jadavpur University VC
Students protest against the West Bengal government’s decision to do away with entrance tests for the humanities department admissions in Jadavpur University, Kolkata, on July 6, 2018. (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

Jadavpur University (JU) vice-chancellor Suranjan Das on Friday offered to resign in the wake of ongoing protests by students and teachers against the West Bengal government’s decision to do away with entrance tests for the humanities department admissions.

Das expressed his desire at a meeting with governor Kesari Nath Tripathi, who is also the chancellor of JU, but was asked not to take any hasty decision, an official at the governor’s house said, wishing anonymity.

The meeting took place after Das’s two-hour-long meeting with education minister Partha Chatterjee at the latter’s residence.

Speculations were rife that the government may engage an external agency to conduct the admission process.

“The governor sought a detailed report from the vice-chancellor on the sequence of events and wanted to know why the agitation by students and protest by teachers, took such a turn,” the official said.

He said Tripathi wanted to know why the decision to conduct entrance tests was withdrawn after making an official announcement following which admit cards were issued to around 17,000 applicants.

After being gheraoed in his office for about 30 hours, Das came out of the campus on Friday and went to Chatterjee’s residence.

Chatterjee did not take calls from the media, nor did he reply to text messages. To avoid reporters who had gathered outside the minister’s south Kolkata residence, Das left through the back door.

Students of the arts faculty are agitating for the last two days, saying doing away with admission tests would severely damage the standard of JU which is one of the premier universities in the country.

According to the Union human resource department’s evaluation in 2017, which adopted the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), JU ranked fifth in the list of top 10 universities in the country.

The JU authority’s decision to cancel the traditional entrance tests at the last moment has raised eyebrows. The academic year for undergraduate courses usually starts around July end. Teachers fear that the impasse may delay the admission process.

Last week, education minister said there cannot be two sets of rules in one education system and hence, admission on the basis of marks secured in board examination should be the uniform criteria everywhere.

On July 4, JU authorities announced cancelling of entrance tests for this year.

Students’ union at the arts faculty started a marathon agitation and the unions of the science and engineering departments joined their movement.

Soon, teachers of the arts faculty also expressed solidarity. On Thursday, teachers of JU’s English department announced their decision to keep away from the admission process and argued that when the board of studies (BOS) of the university has no say in the admission procedure, they feel insulted.

On Friday, teachers of JU’s comparative literature department expressed solidarity with the students and said they would stay away from the admission process.

“We will teach the students, set question papers and evaluate them yet we will not have any say in the admission process. This cannot happen. We have decided to keep away from the admission process,” said Sucharita Chattopadhyay, professor of comparative literature.

Agitating students of English, Comparative Literature and other departments of the arts faculty said they would start a fast-unto-death if JU authorities failed to resolve the crisis by Saturday.

JU professor Nilanjana Gupta said nobody paid any heed to the opinion of educationists and teachers. “The government’s decision has been dumped on us. This is unacceptable. Students seeking admission have nothing to do with this. It is sad to see that our opinion has no weight,” she said.

Eminent educationist Sukanta Chowdhury said it is through the written admission test that JU has identified meritorious students for decades. “On what logic is the old selection system being questioned now? Who took this decision? A university is a seat of learning. There is no space for compromise when it comes to education,” he said.

Former vice-chancellor of Vidyasagar University and an ex-student and teacher of JU, professor Anandadeb Mukherjee said the education minister’s views on the admission process are not transparent.

“Doing away with admission test will definitely affect the standard of JU. And, if policies like these continue, then the entire education system in Bengal will be affected. I strongly protest,” he said.

First Published: Jul 06, 2018 22:55 IST