Research scholars raise a storm

Bangalore University students seek revision in PhD guidelines

Research scholars raise a storm

Perhaps for the first time in decades, a group of angry students barged into a meeting of Bangalore University’s (BU) Academic Council here on Wednesday, stalling it for nearly an hour.

The students were upset over what they termed the university’s “failure” to address their problems, foremost of those being the duration of the PhD coursework. In other universities in Karnataka, students have to undergo the PhD coursework for six months.

But in BU, the duration is a full year, they said. They wanted the university to reduce the duration. 

The protesters entered the venue — Seminar Hall in Jnanajyothi Auditorium at Central College — at 12.15 pm, more than an hour into the meeting. They sat in the passageway in the middle of the auditorium, forcing the meeting to be put on hold. One of them quickly moved into the Well of the House and began addressing the gathering, with his back to the dais where the Vice-Chancellor, N Prabhu Dev, Registrar (Administration) B C Mylarappa, Registrar (Evaluation) Somashekar R K, and Finance Officer N Rangaswamy were sitting.

He sought an answer from the V-C who, he claimed, had promised to give them a hearing on Saturday but could not keep the promise even on Tuesday. Making statistics a compulsory subject in research methodology was one of their grouses. “I’m from a village. If I could study statistics, why would I choose arts,” he questioned. The protesters also wanted to know why student members were not appointed to the Academic Council.

Prabhu Dev first whispered to Mylarappa, his bête noire, to calm the students down. But the latter did not respond. At this juncture, Somashekar rose to address the students.

But the protesters didn’t want to listen to him. “We want an answer from the V-C,” they shouted.

Somashekar tried to reason with the students. He said that the decision about statistics was taken by the Karnataka State Higher Education Council (KSHEC). The PhD ordinance was sent to all the universities. Once the ordinance was adopted, every deficiency will be evened out. A decision would be taken soon, he said.

Meanwhile, Raghu K R, a sub inspector attached to Ulsoorgate police station, whispered something in V-C’s ear. One of the protesters objected to the police presence. “We’re not here to create trouble. We’re students and want our grievances redressed,” he shouted, forcing all the policemen to go out of the venue.

The V-C then tried to calm the students down. The coursework was as per the University Grants Commission (UGC) norm. “We’re merely following the KSHEC guidelines,” he said, promising that their problems would be addressed in a month.

Chaos 

The chaos went on for a while before a resolution was adopted that the issue would be sorted out shortly. The students dispersed around 1 pm.

Prabhu Dev later told reporters that some of the protesters were not really students. He said that he didn’t want to take any action against the students. But he would bring the matter to the Governor’s notice.

The incident shocked many. Y Sampangi, MLA, Bagepalli, said that the meeting had turned into a ‘jaatre’ (fair). “I’ll inform the chief minister,” he told journalists later. Sampangi is an ex-officio member of the Academic Council.

The protest is being seen as yet another scheme of Prabhu Dev’s critics to “defame” him.

The students are associated with Bangalore University Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association which is backed by Mylarappa who, interestingly, did not utter a word during the protest. 

Mylarappa however, said that he had nothing to do with the matter. The registrar (Evaluation) was to explain. “The issue does not come under my domain. Hence, I did not want to comment on it,” he told Deccan Herald, rubbishing allegations that the whole protest was orchestrated by him.

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