Ph.D. students at DU are now expected to pay for instruments they use, i.e., A new ‘maintenance’ charges for lab experiments

Ph.D. students at DU are now expected to pay for instruments they use, i.e., A new ‘maintenance’ charges for lab experiments

The University Science Instrumentation Centre (USIC) located on the North Campus of Delhi University announced on May 1 a list of charges for laboratory instruments to be used by science Ph.D. students. The students now have to bear expenses while performing experiments as part of their research. The charges range from Rs 150 per sample for electron microscope scanning to Rs 500 per hour for modulated differential scanning.

Students fear that this extra research expense will take a hit on their finances. A third-year chemistry Ph.D. student explained how the move could affect research. “While doing research, we synthesize materials which require 15-20 hit trials to get the desired result, which further needs to be characterized with the help of instruments. If every single sample will cost us money, it will discourage us to do more trials, which will eventually produce low-quality results.” Another Ph.D. student said, “If we go by these charges, our everyday expenses may go up to Rs 500 to perform the experiments,”; a fourth-year chemistry Ph.D. student said, “Universities have become markets and students are their customers.”

Bhavani Shankar, an assistant professor of chemistry said that owing to a scarcity of funds, many students just want to complete their research. These students end up landing teaching jobs that do not encourage research. Almost 250 students have submitted a letter to vice-chancellor Yogesh Singh requesting him to look into the matter. In the letter, the students said research groups had very limited funding, including the contingency fund provided by the UGC or CSIR. Also, they expressed their apprehensions about how the new charges would affect their career prospects as well as chances to do post-doctoral research. Kumar, the assistant professor, said that it was also difficult to mobilize science PhD students for the cause as they would mostly be occupied with their research work. The DUSU, the university student’s union, has joined the protest and met officials demanding the revocation of the charges.