Srinagar: Students pursuing master’s program in International Relations (IR) at the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) Saturday held a protest at the Press Enclave here, ruing the future prospects of the program and alleged the Vice Chancellor had no time to talk on the issue.
The students said that varsity had no answers to their queiries on the future prospects of the students, given that the subject is not taught at undergraduate level.
Moreover they haven’t received an appointment with the VC on the issue.
The students said the program was started in 2008 as “Peace and Conflict Studies” and the nomenclature was later changed to “International Studies”.
“We were not even informed about the reasons behind such a major change which affects our careers.”
He said that so far 120 students have graduated from the program with “no choice where to go”.
“We had sought an appointment with the VC but there was no response until we went to Chief Minister’s grievance cell (CMGC),” the protesting students said.
“After the CMGC sent notice to IUST VC, we received a call that the VC is out of station and would meet after he returns.”
The IR graduates said that another notice from the CMGC was served to the vice chancellor of Kashmir University (KU) regarding our degree. “There is no response yet,” they added.
The students said that the program is not even listed in state level eligibility test (SET).
“If the program is being taught in J&K, it should have been added to the list of subjects in which SET is being conducted,” they said.
Prof Shazana Andrabi, the head of IUST’s IR department, told Kashmir Reader that they have been trying “to get equivalence” for the subject against political science.
“But there are many issues and we have to follow University Grants Commission (UGC) norms in this regard,” Prof Andrabi said.
She said the nomenclature of the course was changed “to specifically broaden the scope of students”.
“Actually IR is not in any college or any department here and because of which our graduates face problem in teaching,” she added. “But IR has very very huge scope outside Kashmir and outside India. UGC has not specifically recognised this subject but we are reviewing syllabus of many universities and we are preparing a solid ground for that.”
She asserted that the varsity was not going to fool students.
“We clearly counsel those who want to join our department that no teaching can be done in this program in Kashmir,” she said.
Prof Andrabi remarked that there was rigidity in the university systems in Jammu and Kashmir.
“These subjects including KU run ‘Kashmir and South Asian Studies’ are multi-disciplinary but our graduates are not accepted,” she admitted.
The University of Kashmir also runs a multi-disciplinary MA program, ‘Kashmir and South Asian Studies’ at the Institute of Kashmir Studies (IKS).
Three batches have completed their two-year program so far, however, the KU is yet to call for applications for new batch.
The program has apparently been shelved. However, in a recent notification, the KU council granted ‘Kashmir and South Asian Studies’ equivalence to all the subjects under Social Sciences faculty.
“But what is the future of our subject,” asked one student. “The program comes under IR or area studies but the subject has not been introduced in colleges or in schools.”
The KU graduates also suspected if the notification would be entertained by the recruitment boards of Jammu and Kashmir State.
“According to the notification, I am eligible for jobs in any social sciences faculty but what is the guarantee that my application will be entertained? KU must do something on that front and save our future.”
A KU official said that the notice has been sent to Public Service Commission as well as State Services Recruitment Board (SSRB).
Minister for education, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari told Kashmir Reader that the (IR) students can discuss the issue with him.
“I’m here for the interests of students. They should come to me and I assure them that their concerns will be addressed.” Bukhari said.