While most central universities in Delhi like the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University have initiated phase-wise re-opening of physical classes, the Jamia Millia Islamia university has not announced any plan for welcoming students to the campus so far. The student groups at the elite university – which was ranked sixth among the top ten universities in the country according to the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)-2021 – have jointly demanded that the campus be re-opened at the earliest.
Students groups of Jamia Millia, including the All India Students’ Association, Campus Front of India, Students’ Islamic Organization, Students’ Federation of India and others released a joint statement, saying, “For almost two years since the establishment of a lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, the students have been facing serious problems due to the closure of the school, college, and university campuses. At a point in time, it was necessary to close all campuses due to the increasing covid cases and health issues. But now, the situation has totally changed. Most of the institutions, public places, etc have already opened and with adequate sanitization and social distancing, people have started using all the public facilities. But, still, the campuses are not yet open.”
Students have also claimed that they did not get a promising response regarding the re-opening of the campus during their meeting with the proctor on the issue. “AC (Academic Council) and EC (Executive Council) meetings were held 4-5 days ago but its minutes are not yet released. In this situation, students are facing uncertainty related to the reopening of the campus. We have already seen the grievances students faced due to the ever-increasing digital divide and relentless natural calamities, that went in parallel with the pandemic (sic). Many students who want to access libraries and practical equipment are not yet given access to them. Without these kinds of necessary facilities, how can we call this university education?” stated the student bodies.
Further citing the nationwide vaccination drives, the students claimed that there is no COVID related security issue. “There is no security issue as vaccination drives are going on. International institutions like UNICEF have already said that there is no point in keeping campuses closed. With adequate precautions, re-opening Jamia Millia Islamia is the only solution in front of us. Without re-opening, the education system will deteriorate further. So, we demand the university authorities re-open the University campus immediately,” mentioned the statement.
Earlier this month, JNU and DU declared that they would be welcoming students to the campus and operating at 50 percent capacity, from September 15. The students attending the classes have been mandated to have taken at least one dose of any of the vaccines to enter the campus. Those availing hostel facilities are required to have taken both doses of the vaccine.
A notice from DU’s registrar’s office stated, “Any plan of transition to offline mode must take into account the prevailing conditions and specific requirements of the institutions concerned, allowing it to deal with any eventuality arising due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, keeping the safety concerns as the utmost priority, it was also considered necessary to transit into the blended online-offline mode of teaching and learning in a phased manner.”