Members of University of Hyderabad Students' Union have launched a hunger strike on the campus to demand withdrawal of what they called "discriminatory and exclusionary" minimum qualifying criteria in entrance exam for admissions.
Union members staged the hunger strike at the Administration Block to seek reimplementation of the 1:6 criteria wherein shortlisted candidates are six times the total vacant seats.
Union President Abhishek Nandan said their protest would continue till the minimum qualifying criteria was withdrawn.
Results of the university entrance examination for 2020-2021 were declared on October 16. "But to the shock of students, 71 seats are left vacant, of which 64 are for reserved categories. No candidate has been shortlisted for interview in three departments. In most of the departments, the number of shortlisted candidates are only near to or slightly more than the number of vacant seats available in those departments," the Union said.
It alleged that the reason behind this cut was the "autocratic" decision to adopt a centralised minimum mark criteria, that is 50 per cent marks for General/EWS categories and 45 per cent for SC/ST/OBC/PWD in entrance exam and for MPhil/PhD interviews.
"This is an exclusionary practice as the adoption of minimum qualifying mark criteria will adversely affect students from the marginalised communities and weaker sections of society. They will be denied access to higher education spaces. This will affect the candidates who appear for interdisciplinary courses as meeting the minimum marks limit will be highly tedious for them," said Abhishek Nandan.
The Students Union said that the implementation of the decision was arbitrary as the Academic Council meeting was not called and students' representatives not consulted.
"We see clear violation of University Grants Commission norms and subversion of the reservation policy in the shortlisting procedure. Around 71 seats are still vacant, of which 64 are for reserved categories. This is a deliberate attempt to restrict students from marginalised sections and thwart their academic dreams," said M Sree Charan, Vice- President, Students' Union.
"The shortlists released by the University of Hyderabad for MPhil/PhD interviews also are highly discriminatory in nature as it leaves 71 seats vacant even before the interviews. The university administration cites UGC Regulations of 2016 as an excuse but the regulation itself is exclusionary and discriminatory as it mandates minimum marks of 50% for general and EWS students and 45% for SC/ST/OBC students to be eligible for interviews. Now, as a result 64 reserved seats are already left vacant, and are likely to increase after interviews," said Gopi Swamy, General Secretary, Students' Union.
He alleged that the university is attempting to violate the reservation policy and thereby restrict the entry of Dalit and Bahujan students.