Thursday, March 30

Eye on eminence tag as JU shield

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Jadavpur University remains in contention for the status of Institution of Eminence (IoE) and a level of autonomy that might have spared it the trouble of toeing the government’s line and inviting a campus revolt against scrapping of undergraduate entrance tests.

The university, No. 7 on a shortlist of eight “public institutions” drawn up by an empowered expert committee, missed out when the University Grants Commission (UGC) picked three from among them on July 9 with the assurance that the rest “shall be considered…at a later stage”.

The shortlist of “private institutions” had three names, all of whom have been selected.

Several teachers at JU, fresh out of a student agitation that culminated in entrance tests being restored, said a place on the shortlist was a validation of the system and practices put in place over the years.

“Over the years, Jadavpur University has been able to evolve a system of pursuing the best academic practices. We are not a central academic institution, but a state university working under financial constraints,” Amlan Das Gupta, a professor in the department of English, told Metro.

“Still, we have been able to put in place over the years a mechanism of screening bright students through a time-tested system developed by us to expose them to the best of teaching and learning methods. Students graduating from JU have earned acclaim all over the world. Research has been a strong point. All these factors have helped JU make it to the penultimate tier of the recognition process.”

Just last week, these practices had been under threat with the university’s executive council deciding to scrap entrance tests for six undergraduate arts courses in line with the education minister Partha Chatterjee’s view.

“The university will have to admit students based only on (board examination) marks,” he had said in November last year.

The decision taken by the executive council on July 4 triggered a 90-hour hunger strike by students from last Friday.

The rollback came on Tuesday after teachers of the six arts departments – English, comparative literature, Bengali, philosophy, international relations and history – said they would not be part of an admission process based solely on board examination scores.

The executive council rejected by an overwhelming majority vice-chancellor Suranjan Das’s argument that they were bound to follow “legal counsel” and stick to the decision taken on July 4.

In response to a text from Metro on JU still standing a chance of getting IoE status and the autonomy that comes with it, vice-chancellor Das wrote back on Thursday: “I wish best of luck to JU. I am happy. I had the opportunity to make a presentation with the help of my two colleagues and the pro-VC before the expert committee.”

The tag of eminence will ensure Rs 1,000 crore in five years to JU, which one teacher said would enable the university to be “less pliable to the government”.

Pro-vice-chancellor Pradip Kumar Ghosh said: “In addition to the financial benefit, the recognition will enable Jadavpur University to create posts of research associates and introduce post-doctoral programmes that we do not have at present.”

Source: The Telegraph

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