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War of words over Assam varsity missing top-100 ranking

By Staff Correspondent

SILCHAR, June 14 - Assam University Silchar not featuring among the top-100 ranked educational institutions as per the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for 2020 has sparked a war of words.

Reacting to missing a spot in the list of ranked institutes, Vice Chancellor Prof Dilip Chandra Nath said �The frequent protests and disruptions in academic and administrative activities by the students has been a factor behind the underperformance of the university, which is why it slipped out of the ranking.�

This remark has been condemned by the students. Assam University Students� Union president Biswaroop Bhattacharjee and secretary Aritra Dhar demanded resignation of the vice chancellor, claiming that the university has been dragged to such a dismal state because of the failure of the authorities to address the legitimate needs of the students.

�We staged protests to demand our legitimate needs as students. Our protests have been democratic and as per the Constitution of the university. Hence, the blame that the rankings have gone down due to our agitations is a lame excuse only to hide the failures of the authorities for which the Vice Chancellor should immediately step down,� they said.

Asked about his response to students� remarks, the Vice Chancellor said, �The prolonged protests cast a negative impact on the perception of the university in the broader sense. Also, the university needs to work on research and publication activities in journals for scoring impressive points to improve the ranking. If the students find issues with which they are not comfortable, the authorities are ready for a discussion to find out plausible solutions.�

Meanwhile, after college teachers under the Assam College Teachers Association (ACTA) zonal body raised questions on the approach of the university in conducting examination for undergraduate students from July 7 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the university said the dates were �tentative�.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Prof Nath said, �The examination schedule was prepared because the government wanted us to send a communication regarding conduct of the examination. Our steps are in accordance with the MHRD and UGC in the context of the COVID-19 situation. The examination schedule, however, is a tentative one and would be changed considering the circumstances in the interest of the students.�

Sources said the authorities have deferred the date from July 7 until further notice and the dates for offline submission of forms by students has been extended till June 25. The university has taken steps to arrange for online submission as well.

Office bearers of the ACTA zonal executive committee had lashed out at the university over its �slothful approach� towards academic activities and hurried urge to conduct examinations sans completion of the minimum portions of the syllabus.

Sudarshan Gupta, a member of the academic council at Assam University and former zonal president of the ACTA said, �16 colleges have been used as quarantine centres and 50 per cent of students have remained outside the ambit of online courses. How can the university wrap up the setting of questions in such a hurry?�

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