A division bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday directed the State government, University Grants Commission and universities in Hyderabad to take action on measures suggested bya nine-member committee to reduce academic stress on students, the main cause of suicides on campuses.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta and Justice G Rohini disposed of a public interest petition seeking steps to prevent students’ suicides in universities in Hyderabad. It directed the respondent authorities to take action on measures, both short and long-term, suggested by the nine-member committee headed by NALSAR Vice-Chancellor Prof Faizan Mustafa.
In April, a bench of the high court headed by the then acting Chief Justice NV Ramana had taken suo motu cognizance of a news report on students’ suicides in educational institutions and converted the same into a public interest petition. Justice Ramana appointed a committee to discuss and initiate measures to prevent such incidents.
Following the directions of the High Court, NALSAR University organized the committee meeting on June 22 to consider short-term and long-term measures to reduce stress on students. The committee unanimously suggested 10 short-term and three-long term measures.
l A task force on suicides should be constituted by UGC. Task force should be comparable to anti-ragging committee to monitor academic and emotional distress.
l Each instance of suicide should be investigated by an internal committee constituted by the university with adequate representation from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities.
l In all cases of student’s detention or expulsion, the disciplinary committee of the university should refer the matter to the Student Grievance Committee before implementing a final decision.
l To hear appeals against the decision of the Student Grievance Committee and also other complaints against the university, the university should put in place a University Ombudsman in accordance with the Government of India order.
l The universities should constitute Academic Grievance Committee at the department level.
l All universities in the state should put in place preparatory courses, bridge courses to support SC, ST, OBC students, students with disabilities, first generation learners and economically backward students
l In addition to the appointment of counsellors, universities should also explore the possibility of using Restorative Justice techniques which have been successfully used by the NALSAR University of Law.
l NALSAR should set up Restorative Justice Centre to extend help to other universities.
l The universities shall ensure that all courses are completed in accordance with the academic schedule and results declared on time particularly, the result of supplementary examinations.
l The Universities must take immediate steps to implement UGC Regulation on Equity in Higher Educational Institutions-2012 to ensure equal opportunities and non-discrimination
l NALSAR in collaboration with the State Council for Higher Education should organize a workshop to make a comparative study of Examination Rules of all universities to explore the possibility of reducing academic stress.
l The universities should endeavour to put in place a system of getting students’ feedback on the quality of teaching, student services and institutional infrastructure
l All committees constituted by the universities should preferably have external members from the SC, ST, OBC and minority communities.