Wildlife Institute of India drops MSc, PhD courses after losing affiliation

Updated on Sep 28, 2021 03:27 AM IST

WII director Dhananjai Mohan said: “The MSc and Phd programmes have been kept in abeyance because of some serious issues pointed by the office of the director general of audits. We are trying our best to get affiliation in Uttarakhand.”

Wildlife Institute of India is a unique institution in Asia, where scientists, researchers, Indian Forest Service officers and policymakers work in close collaboration, enabling effective translation of research into policy, the alumni said. (HT file photo)
Wildlife Institute of India is a unique institution in Asia, where scientists, researchers, Indian Forest Service officers and policymakers work in close collaboration, enabling effective translation of research into policy, the alumni said. (HT file photo)
ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi

Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has suspended its doctoral programmes and postgraduate courses in wildlife science and heritage conservation and management after its affiliation to Rajkot-based Saurashtra University was withdrawn.

Saurashtra University in Gujarat withdrew its affiliation earlier this year, citing a 2008 University Grants Commission circular that said that no off-campus study or outreach centre should be established by the university outside the territorial jurisdiction of the state, according to an official at WII, who declined to be named.

“We do not have affiliation to any other university now,” said the official at the autonomous institute under the union environment ministry.

WII director Dhananjai Mohan said: “The MSc and Phd programmes have been kept in abeyance because of some serious issues pointed by the office of the director general of audits. We are trying our best to get affiliation in Uttarakhand.”

Conservationists and WII alumni are concerned about the sudden suspension. “The crown jewel of the academic programmes at WII is one of the oldest and most reputed Master’s courses for Wildlife Science in India. Its national and international impacts can be assessed by looking at the sheer number and contribution of ecologists and conservation leaders who were trained at WII,” the alumni wrote in an online petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 18.

WII is a unique institution in Asia, where scientists, researchers, Indian Forest Service officers and policymakers work in close collaboration, enabling effective translation of research into policy, the alumni said.

WII has been a centre for excellence for Saurashtra University since 1987.

“We have Phd programmes under Forest Research Institute, which is a deemed University, and (also) under Saurashtra University. Those under Saurashtra University had to be suspended because of a Supreme Court orderwhich states that state universities cannot establish off-campus centres beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the concerned state. A UGC circular also states the same,” said a conservation scientist at WII.

“This was brought to the notice of the administration when there was an internal audit a couple of years back. The administration should have acted immediately to get a fresh affiliation, which did not happen,” the scientist said, requesting anonymity. “Last year they tried to get affiliation from Doon University, but it did not materialise. So, the masters and Phd programmes had to be suspended.”

“We are aware of the issue. They are also having issues with funding,” an environment ministry official said, but declined to be named. “We will discuss the matter with them.”

The alumni of WII, which is running an online campaign to demand resumption of these programmes, tweeted last week: “So far, we have received 134 #signatures supporting the petition that includes @UniofOxford and @Cambridge_Uni. Consider urging @wiiofficial1 well-wishers and alumni you know to support us. MSc & PhD Courses delayed = #wildlife courses denied during #wildlife courses denied during #pandemic.”

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