No-test order ‘violates’ Jadavpur University autonomy
Teachers of Jadavpur University have written to education minister Bratya Basu that his department’s instruction that undergraduate students be admitted solely on the basis of marks “goes directly against the autonomy of universities”.
The teachers said in an email to the minister on Tuesday that in a year when plus-II students could not write their school-leaving exams because of the Covid pandemic, assessment through an admission test “is vital for determining whether or not a candidate ought to take up a particular field of study at the higher levels”.
The education department had on July 14 told colleges and universities that they were to draw up the merit list of undergraduate aspirants solely on the basis of plus-II marks.
“This notification goes directly against the autonomy of universities. In the specific case of Jadavpur University, as per the university’s statutes, the admission committee is the final decision-making authority in matters having to do with admissions to various courses of study offered by the university,” the teachers of the university have written to Basu.
Metro tried to call up the education minister several times but his phone was unreachable. Education secretary Manish Jain’s phone was switched off every time this newspaper tried to contact him.
Partha Pratim Roy, the secretary of the Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (Juta), said the methodology of the evaluation of the plus-II students this year would not reflect an undergraduate aspirant’s aptitude for a specific field of study.
“This year, the students will be evaluated on the basis of their performance in Class X board exams, Class XI exams, internal assessment and practical or project work. For a university like ours, that till 2019 used to admit students through admission tests or by giving equal weightage to the test and board marks, admitting students solely on the basis of marks is not an acceptable proposition,” said Roy.
“We want to screen students through admission tests.”
A JU teacher said admission tests could be held off-line with an agency setting up centres across the state.
“The state JEE board conducted the admission test for the BTech programme at 274 centres on Saturday. JU was one of the centres,” the teacher said.
Another teacher said students could be screened through group discussions or interviews held over online platforms.
“If a candidate lacks a smartphone, he or she could be interviewed over a normal phone. The university will consider the board marks but some kind of screening is a must to choose the deserving and bright candidates,” the teacher said.
Another teacher said: “We suspect that the HS candidates will be deluged with marks. So an admission test is the sole option to judge an undergraduate aspirant.”
The higher education department at a meeting with vice-chancellors on July 7 barred state-aided colleges and universities from conducting admission tests at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, apparently because of Covid-19 and the digital divide among students.
Education minister Basu presided over the meeting.
The department announced its opposition to admission tests when JU VC Suranjan Das sought to know whether the tests could be held to screen candidates. Education secretary Jain apparently told Das that tests could not be held this year because of the pandemic and the digital divide.
This is not the first time JU teachers have stood up against the state government’s alleged attempt to undermine a university’s right to take its own academic decisions.
In June 2018, JU had decided to scrap tests for admission to six undergraduate programmes in humanities and admit students on the basis of marks, as suggested by then education minister Partha Chatterjee.
After teachers protested and students held an indefinite hunger strike, the education department was forced to let JU admit students through admission tests and plus-II marks.