PhD students from Mumbai University yet to receive entire year's fellowship

Updated: Jun 06, 2020, 07:28 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

Every year it is the same story, allege candidates; hold a meeting with minister to get their pending payment

The students union has also demanded a raise in the amount of fellowship. File pic
The students union has also demanded a raise in the amount of fellowship. File pic

The PhD candidates from Mumbai University (MU) are having a tough time coping with the financial crisis amid the lockdown. The reason being - the varsity is yet to pay their pending fellowship for the entire academic year.

Initially in March, following the delay in payment, students held protest which resulted in the government assuring immediate payment soon. However, post the assurances no payment was disbursed and this was soon followed with the lockdown in the entire country to curb the spread of COVID-19, thereby putting the students in a spot of bother.

With more than two months passing by since the assurance and with their survival in the city on the line, the candidates wrote a letter to the government and met Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samanton Friday asking for their payment of Rs 8,000 per month.

There are a total of 109 such candidates who are pursuing PhD full time and they are entitled to the fellowship. According to them, a precedent of sorts is being set as they have to struggle almost every year to get the fellowship which is mostly delayed.

"This is really frustrating. On one side, the government is pressing on the importance of research. In fact, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of research has come to the fore. And here we researchers have to demand our payment. In the academic year 2018-19 too, the situation was the same. The fellowship was pending for an entire year and we had to protest after which it was released. This time again after protests, we were given assurances. But soon, the lockdown was imposed and administration forgot our issue," said Sridhar Pednekar, one of the PhD candidates, and is from Chatra Bharati Vidyarthi Sanghatna, a students' union.

The union met Samant with their issues after which he has instructed MU administration to do release their payment as soon as possible. "The minister took a review of our situation and immediately instructed the varsity to release our payment. Now again we will wait and see when varsity implements Saman't instructions," added Pednekar.

On the night of March 11, the students union had given a Dharna protest throughout the night for disbursement of fellowship. The union also demanded a raise in the amount of fellowship as R8000 is not enough in today's time for a researcher to survive - especially in a city like Mumbai.

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