The Karnataka State Open University (KSOU) allegedly slashed the minimum marks required to qualify for viva voce of PhD entrance test, to accommodate Umashree, Minister for Kannada and Culture.
However, the varsity authorities have denied the allegations, claiming that the relaxation was done as an ‘encouragement’ for candidates appearing for the examination.
KSOU is conducting PhD entrance exams for the first time. In the notification issued for the programme on July 15, 2013, it was said that selection of candidates for the programme will be based on Centralised Entrance Test, interview and marks obtained in the qualifying examination, with an overall minimum of 50 per cent marks required in the entrance test.
The entrance examination was held on October 6, 2013, with Umashree as one of the candidates, appearing for PhD entrance in Political Science. The results of the exam were announced on November 4, with Umashree securing 43 marks.
However, during the 26th Academic Council meeting held on November 25, 2013, the varsity decided to reduce the minimum eligibility marks to 40 for candidates from general category, and 35 for SC/ST, and category-1 candidates. One of the beneficiaries of the reduction was Umashree.
When contacted, M G Krishnan, Vice Chancellor of KSOU, said that the decision was made after holding consultations with the registrars and deans of the varsity, who advised that the marks be reduced for minimum eligibility.
“Our intention was to give a person who secured even zero per cent to appear for the interview. Moreover, all persons who qualify in the entrance exam invariably bring political pressure for qualification. To avoid all that, we reduced the percentage for qualification,” he said.
Setting 50 per cent marks in the initial notification for PhD entrance was a mistake, he said. “No other varsity has cut-off percentage after PhD entrance. And since demand was more, we had to reduce the cut-off percentage,” he added.
Umashree, speaking to Deccan Herald, said that she was not aware of any relaxations made. “You should contact the varsity authorities regarding the issue,” she said.