As an extension of the GS meter updates that assess the performance of student representatives, Insight presents the mid-term review of the work undertaken by the PG Academic Council. Deekshith K Shetty, the incumbent GSAA representing the PG students, has several initiatives for all post-graduate students in his mind, ranging from cutting the red tape in various academic procedures to educating students about matters that they frequently need help with. This article aims to explore all the plans that he wishes to propose and those that are already in the pipeline. We also get a glimpse into how the PG Academic Council will function under his leadership.
Note that, since Deekshith is the continuing GSAA for this year, there was no new manifesto to be made for this election. The agenda that he will work on, as detailed ahead, is based on his team’s suggestions and carry-overs from his past tenure, and is subject to change in due course of the year.
Structure of the Post-Graduate Academic Council
The PGAC (Post-Graduate Academic Council) which has representatives from both the Masters and Doctoral programmes, caters to the academic needs of the PG community. The council is headed by the GSAA PG who has Institute Representatives of Academic Affairs for Masters and Doctoral, working under him/her. They lead a team of executive members, who then supervise the AURAAs. Ideally AURAAs are selected such that they have a spokesperson from each department and programme. The Academic Council Coordinators form the foundation of the structure and are generally first year students. It helps to ensure that the succeeding team is in the loop regarding the projects undertaken in the previous tenure.
The council predominantly handles three engagements – policy making, handling grievances and organising events and workshops. For proposing an agenda both, top down and bottom up approach is used. In the bottom up approach, ideas are brought up through the wings with some preliminary work. Then the whole team or just the IRAA meets with the GSAA-PG, where the relevance and feasibility of the idea is discussed and the best approach to tackle the issue is planned out. IRAA, with the help of her/his team, complete the necessary groundwork and produce a draft proposal, which is reviewed by the GSAA-PG and after making the necessary changes, it is finalised. Depending on the nature of the scheme, it is channeled to a relevant committee or a functionary. Once approved by the functionaries, the propositions are formulated as policies. They also handle grievances on an individual basis related to course retagging, delay in fellowships and hostel related issues in some cases. They organize workshops in association with professors that augment their research skills and develop their soft skills.
Several of the following initiatives are in the pipeline and are just pending approval.
- Streamlined the process of obtaining an exit degree with MPhil. for PhD students. Students now have the option to submit their theses within six months of applying for the exit degree.
- Conducted a survey on post-graduate internships. Obtained the departments’ feedback on the same. A sub-committee of professors, functionaries and student representatives to be formed to look into the matter.
- Plan to increase the duration between the pre-synopsis and thesis submission from four months to six months. This will ease the PhD scholars’ time-sensitive and stressful schedules during the time that they’re juggling their final papers as well as their PhD theses.
- Offer a long term proposal to build a common PG student lounge – replete with comfortable seating, vending machines and TV screens for presentation. Propose, in the short term, to convert vacant spaces in the Lecture Hall Complex into student-lounges which can be used by everyone.
- Propose to build well-equipped libraries that double as study-rooms, within departments based on feasibility.
- Push to reintroduce the CS101 course on Computer Programming and Utilization for MSc students, possibly independent of the UG CS101 course and with suitably modified course content.
- Explore the possibility of running Communication Skills and credit seminar, so as to resolve the mismatch between the semesters in which this course and the credit seminar need to be opted for.
- Deliberate over permitting MSc-PhD dual degree students freshers to take up summer internships similar to the M.Sc. students, which are currently forbidden by several departments.
- Discuss ways to increase transparency in the allotment of topics for the credit seminar in certain departments, so that most students have the opportunity of pursuing the topic they want to pursue.
- Push for printing facilities in all departments and a stationery shop in the academic area.
- Make Turnitin, the plagiarism-detection service, accessible to students, possibly by linking it with their LDAP IDs.
- Educate the PhD students regarding the procedure for obtaining reimbursements from the IRCC.
- Check the feasibility of giving contingency to all PhD and MTech students as part of their stipend, so that they may use it for purchasing books and other items needed for their research.
- Establish a set of rules to decide which field trips that PhD students take will be funded by the institute. Push for maximum trips to be funded.
- Work towards procuring online storage for PhD students to upload all of their work, while ensuring that confidentiality is not compromised.
- Systematize waste disposal in every department and sensitize PHO workers about the same.
- Work with the Hostel Affairs Council to improve the hygiene of washrooms in the academic area, the ladies’ ones in particular.
- Compile information about courses, credit seminars and qualifiers that PhD students have to complete in their first year again and make it easily accessible to prospective students.
- Propose skill-specific certified courses to be taken by professors for a duration of two months.
- Disseminate information about the procedures to get grants for foreign conferences approved and the process for submitting the bills for reimbursements.
- Revamp the website that shows information about all research equipment available in the institute across departments.
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