JNU students extend strike; Javadekar defends seat cut

New Delhi: JNU Students' Union today decided to extend their strike against the massive seat cut in MPhil and PhD courses even as HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar defended the varsity's decision saying it follows UGC norms.

While the students had yesterday called for a one-day strike, today they decided to continue it for two more days and hold a protest demonstration outside the University Grants Commission's office tomorrow.

The varsity released its prospectus on Tuesday effecting seat cuts in the MPhil/PhD programmes across courses.

The Delhi High Court had dismissed the plea by some students challenging the JNU admission policy for MPhil and PhD courses.

The HC had said the UGC guidelines are binding on all varsities, paving the way for the university to begin its admission process.

"We have planned to continue the university strike for two more days and stage a mass protest demonstration outside the UGC office tomorrow," JNUSU President Mohit Pandey said.

The HRD Minister, however, defended the move saying JNU professors guide more researchers than they are mandated to.

The Minister's statement came during the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha when members expressed concern about the state and the quantum of research, including PhDs, being done in the country.

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh claimed the UGC guidelines have proved to be counter-productive.

Observing that a court has now held that the JNU should follow the UGC norms, Javadekar said that the UGC mandate is that a professor may guide 8 scholars, an associate professor 6 and assistant professor 4.

In JNU, the Minister said, there were instances of professors guiding upto 20-25 scholars for their PhDs.

"Have you heard (this) anywhere?" he asked.

The JNU administration also issued a statement. "The number of vacant seats have been announced in accordance with the cap on research seats as per 2016 UGC Regulation." 

"The argument that there is seat cut is untenable, since the current strength of research scholars are much higher than the required cap," it added. .