UoH PhD Admission: RTIs show students are graded based on caste, alleges ASA

Hyderabad University PhD Admission: Many reserved category students marked zero in interview despite scoring well in exam, as per the data collated by ASA-HCU.

UoH PhD Admission: RTIs show students are graded based on caste, alleges ASA University of Hyderabad admission 2023 (Image: Official)
Anu Parthiban | Mar 31, 2023 - 10:25 a.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have been receiving strong backlash for violating the reservation policy in the admission process. In a similar allegation, the Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) have published a report on discriminatory marking of reserved category students in interviews during PhD admission 2023 at the University of Hyderabad.

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The ASA collated the data collected from multiple RTI applications and found that there is a pattern where students belonging to reserved categories are marked much lower than those belonging to the general category despite having similar marks in the entrance exam.

The students group compared the marks obtained by the top scorers in each category in the entrance exams against their score in the interview. “The discriminatory markings in these departments almost resemble a structure of graded inequality where marks of students resemble their position in the caste hierarchy,” it alleged.

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The data from the seven departments studied by the ASA showed that only one seat is filled by the reserved category. That is, out of the 28 seats in the general category in these 7 departments, 27 seats have been filled by the students of unreserved category. In the remaining departments, of the 79 seats, 34 seats from reserved categories have been admitted.

“The findings give an impression that the students were marked in the interviews deliberately as if to ensure that the general category seats are occupied exclusively by the students belonging to the unreserved category.”

“This is the subversion of the policy of affirmative action and turns the principle of social justice upside down. The reservation policy, which is supposed to ensure that there is a minimum percentage of students from reserved category, is now being used by the universities to limit the numbers to bare minimum,” the ASA-HCU added.

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Also Read| Caste has ‘built invisible walls’ on campuses, says University of Hyderabad Students Union president

'Reserved category students marked not suitable'

The University of Hyderabad is ranked 10th among universities and 19th under overall category in the NIRF rankings 2022. HCU admission to all the PhD programmes are done based on the performance in the written test and interview. Only JRF qualified candidates are exempted from appearing in the entrance exam.

The ASA found out that the faculties of the interview panel have marked SC, ST, OBC candidates with zero marks. In what they termed as extreme cases of discriminatory marking, the report revealed that seven out of eight in the interview panel awarded zero marks for a SC student and lowest marks such as 0.3, 1.9 marks out of 30 for four other SC students.

An OBC student who secured a high mark of 41.25 in the PhD entrance exam for Material Engineering was given only 2.4 marks in the interview. Another faculty from the Centre of Women’s Studies has given zero marks for 14 out of 18 students.

“The RTIs uncovered that some departments simply had not awarded marks to many reserved category students and went to an extent of marking them as “not suitable” in violation of UGC norms.

Also read | IIT BHU rejects the only OBC candidate shortlisted for PhD admission, no SC, ST admitted

Hyderabad University: Demands by ASA

The ASA–HCU has listed out various demands to prevent caste discrimination in the PhD admission process at the university.

  • It has asked the university to constitute a committee, with representatives from SC, ST, OBC members, to analyze patterns of caste discrimination and come up with guidelines.
  • To ensure that no student is rejected admission with dismal marks like zero in interview and all students be evaluated fairly.
  • All departments have to clearly lay down the criteria for evaluation, proportional weightage for research aptitude, subject knowledge and research proposal.
  • All members of the interview panel should provide individual marks for the candidates and maintain a record of them.
  • Should organise PhD admission training workshops.

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