NEW DELHI: National-level left student bodies today announced an alliance to fight "onslaughts" on higher education and alleged attempts by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to privatise education and end reservations through its policies.
Organisations in the alliance include the All India Democratic Students Organisation, All India Students Federation (AISF), All India Students Association (AISA), All India Students Bloc and Students' Federation of India (SFI).
"We have seen in recent days the MHRD has made several policy-level changes to higher education with their agenda to privatise education in a market-profiting manner and exclude a large number of students across the country from accessing higher education," AISA national president Sucheta De said.
She said the alliance would lead protests across the country demanding the withdrawal of a February 12 notification issued by the MHRD and gazettes "granting autonomy to 60 higher education institutes".
It wanted a partial funding scheme for colleges and universities to be revoked and an increase in funding in higher education.
The left bodies said they would hold a national convention in Delhi in July to press for their demands.
"Another grave issue is the new roster system and scuttling of reservation in recruitment. A draconian May 5, 2016, UGC gazette has made viva a sole criterion for selection of M.Phil and Ph.D students in varsities such as JNU. These are attempts to end reservations," SFI national president VP Sanu said.
After the national convention, similar events and protests would be held across the country to spread awareness on the issue, he added.
Asked if the alliance would also together fight student union elections in different universities, De said there was already a tie-up among left organisations in varsities.
"However, this is just a declaration to fight the policies of the ministry.
Various teachers' organisations such as the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) and Federation of Central University Teachers Associations have also offered us their support," she said.
National presidents of other organisations were also present at the press meet.
The MHRD had on February 12 this year issued a gazette notification, titled the University Grants Commission [Categorisation of Universities (Only) for Grant of Graded Autonomy] Regulations, 2018.
On March 5, a circular by UGC/MHRD instructed colleges and universities to make department-wise rosters instead of the current system where the University or a college is taken as a unit.
DUTA president Rajib Ray had also opposed this initiative.
"If the roster is made department-wise, and not taking college as a unit, it will drastically reduce the number of seats reserved for SC/ST/OBC and delay the attainment of required percentages as mandated by the Constitution," he had said.