THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Pushed to the brim, the research scholars of Kerala University have called for the attention of the officials to save them from more hard knocks. The way UGC-JRF scholars were bereft of fellowships for the last one year and the rocky path the guide-student relationships had taken prompted the students to ask for immediate intervention of the University.
Ever since the death of a research student on Kariavattom campus, a volcano has been brewing in the research scholars’ fraternity.
The Standing Committtee on Research and Scholarships had held a meeting on the Kariavattom campus on March 16 to hear the students’ woes. The students, led by the Researchers’ Union, in turn submitted a representation before the Committee in the last week of March.
“The delay in getting the UGC-JRF in time had pushed many scholars to take up small jobs to meet the ends,” they said in the representation.
The University had been admitting JRF scholars every six months but they were only paid every two years simply because the UGC had been releasing funds every two years.
Sources said that the tiff between the UGC and the University on the issue has made the matters worse.
“Admitting JRF scholars adds to the credit of the University at the time of NAAC inspection. So they admit students every six months. But the researchers are not given their fellowships which causes many hardships, affecting the quality of research work. At times scholars ask for help from guides, which leaves them obliged to the point that it affects their work,” said Charles Varghese, a research scholar in the department of Sociology.
The fellowship amounts to Rs 19,200 including the HR allowance. The JRF scholars in the University were last paid in April 2011 and that too half the amount. “The research scholars were not just students but teachers and sometimes colleagues of the guides itself. Even they were not spared the trauma,” the researchers said.
The researchers have demanded infrastructure facilities (computers with internet connection and libraries) to be ensured in every department and other research centres in proportion to the number of research scholars.
The scholars have also said that the University should adopt a ‘Student Appraisal and Feedback system of Teachers and Guides’ on a regular basis. This should be considered for the internal quality improvement, they said.
When contacted, Standing committee for Research and Scholarships chairperson P S Sreekala said that a delegation from the University had met the UGC officials with regard to the payment of fellowships and it would be taken up.
“In other Universities, the JRF scholarships are paid by the University in advance and later reimbursed by the UGC. But in Kerala University, following the financial crunch we are facing, it cannot be done. But we hope to streamline the fellowship distribution soon,” she said.