Addressing Issues: An Open Discussion between PhD Scholars and the Administration
Sayed Munib Ahamad | Oct 08, 2018
On Wednesday the administration held an Open House Discussion with the PhD students of NIT Rourkela. The event was titled as a ‘heart to heart’ session with the administration hoping to pragmatically solve the issues faced by research scholars. The event was hosted by the administration at Bhubaneswar Behera Auditorium at around 5 in the evening. The event was compared by Amlan Das, a PhD student of the department of metallurgy.
Representing the administration were the Director Prof Animesh Biswas, Dean (Academics) Prof K K Mohapatra, Associate Dean Alok Satapathy along with the Director’s scribe. On the other hand, the PhD scholars were represented by a select group of students from the various departments whose names were called out at the beginning of the event.
1. Distribution of Research Scholar Week awards
2. Late entry issue
3. Thesis submission to QS 300 ranked institutes and the problems caused by it
4. Curriculum issue of PhD 1st years
5. Stipend period extension of project scholars
Initially, the issue of stipend was raised in which a student queried the administration regarding the fact that funds haven't been released. The administration replied stating that all the necessary pre-requisites like having an SBI account so on and so forth must be paid. Then there was the talk of the late entry notification stating that even for academic purposes Late entry would require supervisor permission. The Director responded saying that they consulted with parents, law enforcement, and faculty and had an Open house discussion before framing the rule. Dean Academics KK Mahapatra replied that permission could be taken from the supervisor who’s the equivalent of a guardian of their respective students in this institute. He gave the example of his own students who work late at night in the administration to which a girl questioned that she was denied late entry permission to 12 AM even though the request was for 2 AM.
The Director replied stating that as long as the actions of the students do not result in affecting them in a bad way or affecting the well-being of other students and finally doesn’t affect the image of the institute then he wouldn’t be too discerning about late entry rules. The Director mentioned that only a few students create a ruckus while the rest of students are disciplined. A research scholar also remarked about the drinking/smoking of students being a problem, however, it wasn’t received in the same vein by other research scholars who briskly moved on to other topics. The administration in ways of their usual Modus Operandi asked the complainant to write a formal letter and the ISDC would look at it if there was a violation of institute rules.
Talking about QS rankings, the discourse got heated up with both sides sticking to their points. The Director said that it was important for people to work in various ways and said that rankings shouldn’t affect people too much since they are quite subjective and top-notch research institutes like Max-Planck institute doesn’t feature in the rankings. Dean Academic, KK Mahapatra, said that they will look at the issue and evaluate it on its own merit.
Followed by that was a discussion about the requisite courses which many have complained that is proving to be a burden for a lot of students. Dean Academics, KK Mahapatra said that the matter would be put up before the Senate for consideration since mathematics is an integral part. At the same time, he discussed the fact that Alternate subjects like Research methodology if feasible. The administration wasn’t expecting this response since they discussed it with various departments who were encouraging of the move. As of right now, they have planned to introduce customized maths courses along with a statistics course. The issue of lowering the passing grade to P from B was also mentioned. The issue of the maths courses being too lengthy and/or too difficult was raised. The Dean (Academics) raised the issue and agreed to see what they can do regarding their grades so they don’t have to worry. In this regard, the Dean (Academics) would be consulting with professors from the department of mathematics to determine if indeed the question paper was too difficult
Coming to project, the students already have an advisor who has investigated the problem which is easier, relatively speaking, than finding the problem on your own identifying possible avenues and furthermore a plan of action which is something already done by the advisor in case of a project. In the case of stipend period extension, the administration said that Project scholars will get extended stipend till 1.5 years after their project duration which will be implemented in the next fiscal year
They also talked about bringing Nobel laureates since they are visiting India during that time frame. In the same note, NIT Rourkela’s administration has been in touch with the Swedish Embassy in Delhi regarding the same. However, the director mentioned the need for healthy participation with an audience of 700-800 people as a requisite for the said lecture by Nobel Laureates if it came to pass.