Saleem Iqbal Qadri

IUST tampers selection criteria, bends UGC guidelines to favour blue-eyed

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IUST tampers selection criteria, bends UGC guidelines to favour blue-eyed

Srinagar, Apr 06: Right from its inception, the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) has always attracted criticism for bending and breaking rules to favour “chosen ones” in matters of recruitment.

This time too it is no different. Some candidates up in arms against the varsity for having edged them out by violating the norms laid down by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Scores of candidates who had applied for the post of Assistant Professor (vide Advertisement Notice No. 02 of 2017 dated: 06-03-2017) have accused IUST Awantipora of picking up a “favorite lot” for the posts in different streams by violating the UGC regulations (4th Amendment, 2016), that lays down the break-up of weightages accorded to various qualifying criteria.

A group of candidates who have gone through the interview held by the IUST in November  last year,  told ‘Kashmir Images’ that they have been “cheated” by the IUST authorities, who they say have violated the UGC regulations just to favor some “blue-eyed” candidates.

Aggrieved candidates say varsity, as per UGC guidelines, had to accord 20 percent weightage to the interviews. However, IUST by giving 30 percent weightage to the interview gave an “undue advantage” to the candidates whose academic and research weightage was “very low”.

To substantiate the point, a candidate citing the name of one Anjum Gazala, who figures at serial no. 4 of Physics selection list, told ‘Kashmir Images’ that she had the highest score as per her academics and research, but the weightage given to interview has decreased her total score.

“If the interview was given only 20 percent weightage, her selection was due,” said the candidate.

A senior faculty at the varsity, requesting anonymity, said: “Candidates who have been selected in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), are a glaring example of undue favours.”

Sources within the varsity pointed out that two top candidates (names with-held) figuring at serial no. 1 and 2 are close relatives of a senior university official.

The aggrieved candidates also say that the IUST didn’t specify that 70:30 criteria (30 percent weightage for interviews) will be followed for making the selection. “We came to know about this criterion only after the final merit list was published,” the candidates say.

“University should have put all the facts before the eligible candidates of all disciplines right in the onset, and thereafter also as to what rules will be/have been followed for selections; and which UGC guidelines will be followed and which tampered,” aggrieved candidates say.

They say besides the UGC guidelines, even as per the University statues, the interview performance can’t be accorded more than 20 percent weightage in the final selection process.

Some candidates also alleged that the interviews were nothing more than “mock sessions”. Some say they found only one external expert inside the interview room, while others alleged even the chairman of selection committee was not present there when they were interviewed.

“This is in clear violation of the SOPs of selection process as deliberated within the university statues,” they alleged.

‘Kashmir Images’ also learned that recently nine contractual positions in Department of Computer Sciences and Engineering (CSE), under NPIU were filled. Three of the candidates selected now on substantive positions (Adil Bashir, Sahil Sholla, Ahsan Hussain) appearing at serial no. 2, 3, and  4 in the selection list had also applied for these contractual positions.

“Even after three rounds for selection process including interviews, they could not make it to the IUST as contractual faculty. But within a month, the story is different; now they are getting more than two times the marks in the interview as compared to those selected as NPIU contractuals in IUST,” the left-out candidates pointed out.

Dr Mohammad Najm-ud-doja, Professor and Head of Department, Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering & Technology, Jamai Millia Islamia, New Delhi, who was an external expert in the interview committee, while dodging the issue, said: “Listen to me, I cannot talk in this regard with you, and dropped the phone call.”

When asked about this, Vice Chancellor IUST, Prof Mushtaq Sifddiqui despite being Chairman of the Selection Committee, refused to say anything in this regard.

“You better talk to the Registrar, he is authority to speak over this issue,” VC IUST told ‘Kashmir Images’.

And Registrar IUST, Syed Riyaz Rufai claimed that the interview panel has “strictly followed” the 4th Amendment of the UGC.

Asked about the varsity arbitrarily increasing the weightage of interview performance to 30 percent when the UGC guidelines accord it only 20 percent, Rufai said “we have added the 10 percent of domain knowledge to the interview performance, and that is how the weightage of interview performance was increased to 30 percent.”

Asked if the varsity was qualified to arbitrarily affect this change when UGC guidelines specify only 20 percent weightage to interviews, the Registrar said, “This an Islamic institution, we are the honest people here in the administration. There is no question of any irregularity in the selection process!”

Meanwhile, aggrieved candidates say they have filed a application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to seek details from the university with regard to the selection process.

Confirming this, Rufai said “we will furnish this information as we are bound by law.”

Figures don’t lie, liars figure!

Taking preliminary and final merit lists for selection in the Department of CSE published by the university as sample, ‘Kashmir Images’ conducted the number analyses which put forth startling revelations – which certainly refuse to be mere co-incidences – and hence point to a visible design.

 Table I

Preliminary Merit (those who have been left out)

S.No. Name                                    Preliminary Merit/70     Interview Marks/30    Total

1          Burhan Ul Islam Khan                        36.26                            13                        49.26

2          Saima Maqbool                                   32.24                           17                        49.24

3          Jawad Ahmad Dar                              31.40                           19                          50.40

Table II

Selection List (those who have been selected for the job)

S.No.      Name Preliminary            Merit/70              Interview Marks/30     Total

1          Syed Zubair Ahmad Shah        28.14                           28                        56.14

2          Adil Bashir                              26.08                           28                           54.08

3          Sahil Sholla                             25.73                           28                           53.73

4          Ahsan Hussain                        25.55                           27                           52.55

After looking at these tables (I and II), what is easily discernible is:

  1. The three candidates who have been left out despite possessing better aggregate in preliminary merit (on the basis of their academics and research) lost on the job simply because they couldn’t score better in interviews. Conversely, those who were picked up for the job, did so only on the basis of better score in interviews even when their preliminary score was low. As is visible, the extra 10 percentage points accorded to interviews have been a game-changer here.
  2. So notwithstanding candidates’ academic and research records, the selections were made merely on the basis of interviews – which obviously allow undue leeway to the selectors in the interview panel.
  3. Common sense has it that the probability of all four selected candidates, otherwise scoring low on preliminary merit list, but performing astounding better during interviews by scoring 28 or 27 marks out or 30 (around 90 percent) while as the left out candidates possessing better qualifying aggregate scoring only between 43-63 percent in interviews is very unlikely – and actually points to some undue favours showered on the former.
  4. As is obvious the left-out candidates have been accorded marks for interviews with pinpoint precision so as to make sure they don’t haunt the “blue-eyed” ones.
  5. Burhan Ul Islam Khan, who figured top in academic merit with 52 points has been awarded only 13 points in interview. This raises concerns with respect to distribution of marks in the interview process. Just 16 points were needed by him to be in top 4. But assigning him just 13 marks in interview provides a clear logic that he has been kept out for specific reasons. All the selected candidates have been awarded more than twice his marks in the interview.

Similar countless discrepancies are there in other streams as well. For the sake of brevity only Computer Sciences and Engineering (CSE) stream has been dissected here.

Aggrieved candidates have appealed the Chief Minister, who happens to be the Chancellor of the varsity, and Education Minister to look into this brazen display of impropriety in an academic institution which happens to be a university, and not a primary school!

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