Teachers oppose inclusion of ‘external experts’ to decide admissions at Jadavpur University

Many believe that the government is trying to decimate the time-tested method and a get a backdoor entry in the campus.

Jadavpur University
Kolkata: Jadavpur University is in the middle of another controversy as teachers are up in arms against new rules to let ‘external experts’ make decision for admissions in humanity courses. Many believe that the government is trying to decimate the time-tested method.
“The admissions committee had last week decided to engage external experts to set one of two sets of admission test question papers and possibly evaluate the answer scripts. The move came in deference to an advice from Bengal’s advocate-general Kishore Dutta,” reported Telegraph.
The vice chancellor asked the heads of departments if the internal teachers should be involved in the admission process.
“Last week, the Executive Committee of the university announced that a uniform system should be adopted for admission. Something the arts faculty teachers claim that the education minister Partha Chatterjee had been pushing for the last three years. While uniformity has been reluctantly accepted by most of the arts faculty, the proposal on Tuesday left teachers shocked.   This triggered an outrage among a large section of the arts faculty. “It is a humiliation,” said one professor.  “We have kept standards high at the university and now they say we are not fit to check papers?” reported NDTV
“Most students have sided with the angry arts faculty. They suspect government interference and an attempt by the ruling Trinamool Congress to make a backdoor entry into the campus where it has a very thin presence,” the report added.
“If the state government wants to decimate a system the state’s best university has been following, and doing well, they have to explain the reasons… why they want to decimate it. Let them explain what good will come out of it,” emeritus professor Sukanta Chaudhuri said after a meeting of the admissions committee to The Telegraph.
“We need to test the writing skill of the prospective students to determine whether a student is worthy of studying the humanities. We have been successfully doing this. Where is the need to engage the external experts in this exercise?” Surpiya Chaudhuri, a teacher asked.
The Telegraph reported that several past and present teachers, including Sankha Ghosh, Supriya Chaudhuri and Nabaneeta Dev Sen, signed a statement that expressed the fear that Jadavpur University’s pride could be “ground to dust” because of the decision.
“We are deeply concerned about the controversy and uncertainty surrounding the entrance exam. It does not remain to be said that the teachers of a curriculum are the best judges of the abilities of prospective students. The logic is more applicable in this case because these departments in Jadavpur University have been selecting the students through a time-tested process for several years, perhaps decades…. Scrapping this successful system without any reason and replacing it with another is bound to severely affect the evaluation of merit. Despite many challenges, the merit of students in Bengal and their academic prowess was a matter of pride. That pride could now be ground to dust,” their statement said.
Due to the protests, the vice chancellor has referred the matter to the executive council again and the concerns are supposed to be heard on Wednesday, July 4.
Entrance Exam Delayed
The entrance test for the six departments under Arts course were to be held on June 3 but have been delayed and will take place on June 11.
“While the university buys time to decide on who should set the question papers, check the answerscripts and invigilate the tests, whether outside experts should be roped in or not, the delay has added to the anxiety of thousands of candidates waiting to take the exams. JU has already postponed the examination dates from July 3 to July 11. Asked if the prevailing uncertainty would further delay the admission tests, JU registrar Chiranjib Bhattacharya said, “There is no question of postponing the UG admission tests any more. They will be held as announced,” TOI reported.
In the arts faculty, nine key departments have in the past taken independent decisions on how to take students.  Some take entrance exams, others on the basis of Class 12 marks. Some others consider a mix of entrance tests and class 12 marks.
“Some departments, such as English, comparative literature, political science, history, philosophy and Bengali, would conduct entrance tests for a balanced evaluation of the candidates’ merit. Other departments, such as economics, geography, sociology and Sanskrit, consider the candidates’ plus-II scores only. The EC has now decided that the six departments —English, comparative literature, political science, history, philosophy and Bengali—will have to give 50-50 weightage to the plus-II scores and the entrance test marks,” TOI reported.



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