The English department at Jadavpur University this year will allow students from other universities in its master’s programme only if they have honours in English.

The department till last year had allowed students from any discipline to study MA in English if the applicants cracked an admission test.

Since the admission test cannot be held this year because of the Covid pandemic, the department will screen aspirants for the postgraduate course based on their marks at the undergraduate level. Hence, only students with English honours will be allowed to apply.

A member of the admissions committee, which met on Sunday to finalise the modes of screening across disciplines, said the English department was of the view that screening students with English honours on the basis of their marks at the undergraduate level was the only practicable option in the current circumstances.

“It is the only tenable option, very far from the best option. But it is the only practicable option…” said Rimi B. Chatterjee, the head of the English department.

A teacher of the department said that since they did not consider screening aspirants based on marks as the best option because different universities have different marking patterns, they wanted to conduct a viva voce.

“But we were told by the university authorities that the higher education department insisted on admitting students at state-run universities based on marks this year,” said the teacher.

Another teacher said the graduation scores would hardly reflect the merit of an applicant, given the way the end-semester exams for the undergraduate students were held last month. Since gatherings on campuses have been banned because of the pandemic, the examinees wrote their papers at home.

The same concern has prompted Ramakrishna Mission Residential College (Autonomous), Narendrapur, to test applicants for the postgraduate course in English through home assignments and viva voce this year.

Asked why JU could not follow the RKM model, an official of the university said the education department did not impose its writ on RKM institutions since they enjoy academic autonomy.

Two other JU departments — comparative literature and film studies — will admit students by giving equal weightage to the graduation score and group discussions to be held on digital platforms.

Asked why group discussions would be allowed in the two subjects, another JU official said: “The education department insisted that the screening would be based on graduation marks so long as the subjects were taught at the undergraduate level across institutions. Comparative literature is taught at the undergraduate level only in JU. Film studies is taught as a generic elective subject at the un-dergraduate level only at St Xavier’s College and JU.”

JU vice-chancellor Suranjan Das said the admission notification would contain details of screening.

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