The demonstration outside Presidency vice-chancellor Anuradha Lohia’s office on Tuesday afternoon. (Below right) Lohia after the agitation was withdrawn. Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta
Presidency University students have held a 24-hour demonstration outside the vice-chancellor’s office, demanding that those who could not get direct admission to master’s courses be admitted.
More than 50 students started the demonstration around 5.30pm on Monday. It was lifted around 6pm on Tuesday after VC Anuradha Lohia agreed to raise the issue at a meeting of the university’s admissions committee.
The Presidency graduates who have been denied direct admission to postgraduate courses despite scoring more than the cut-off can still vie for a berth by appearing in a test with students from other institutions.
Following a government directive, Presidency, like other state universities, can directly admit own students scoring the cut-off or more to up to 60 per cent of the postgraduate seats. The rest will have to be filled up through admission tests.
“The admissions committee will discuss the issue.... It’s beyond my power to raise the intake and accommodate all students,” Lohia said, after persuading the students to call off the demonstration.
The same day last year, then Presidency VC Malabika Sarkar had been gheraoed for more than two hours on the same issue while a meeting of the university council was under way.
No official or teacher, however, was detained during this year’s agitation.
Education minister Partha Chatterjee described the students’ demand as “unethical”.
“I wonder how could the students demand that all students, even those who are unsuccessful, be accommodated in the postgraduate courses. I do not support this demand,” Chatterjee said on the sidelines of a programme on Tuesday evening.
“The government does not approve any gherao by students at any educational institution. I came to know about the demonstration around 2pm. I was surprised that it had been going on since last night. This is not acceptable.”
The minister had called up the VC and enquired about the agitation.
“We are ready to offer all kinds of support to ensure smooth functioning of the university.... The university is an autonomous institution and the government cannot intervene in its internal administration. But I have asked the VC to take appropriate steps to solve the problem as early as possible.”
State Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad president Shankudeb Panda said the Independents Consolidation, which runs the Presidency students union, was trying to get “mediocre students” admitted to the postgraduate courses.
“We won’t allow any compromise with merit. Ideally, at a centre of excellence (the chief minister wants Presidency to emerge as one) there should not be any reservation,” Panda said.
Presidency sources said more than 50 graduates were denied direct admission despite scoring more than the cut-off because of the 60 per cent cap on the number of home students who can be allowed such entry.
The cut-off score is 60 per cent at the undergraduate exams for MSc and 50 per cent at the undergraduate exams for MA.
“If we have 40 seats for MSc in physics, not more than 24 can be set aside for home students. Therefore, if 40 Presidency physics graduates fulfil the eligibility criterion, as many as 16 can’t be admitted directly,” explained a university official.
Sumallya Mukhopadhya, the general secretary of the Presidency student union, said their repeated pleas to increase the number of postgraduate seats went unheeded. “If there were more seats, all the students would have been accommodated,” said Mukhopadhyay.
VC Lohia said the postgraduate seat count could not be increased given the space and human resource constraint. “There is so much limitation of space that let alone science, even seats for humanities subject cannot be increased. If we increase the seat count without fulfilling the requisite criteria, quality of education will suffer,” Lohia said.