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PhD-holders boycott research fellowship exam alleging question paper leak

January 11, 2024

On Wednesday, January 10, hundreds of PhD-holders boycotted the common entrance test for research fellowships awarded by three institutes under the Maharashtra government in various cities alleging a question paper leak, a charge denied by the Savitribai Phule Pune University.

The CET was scheduled to take place in Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur and Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar earlier in the day but hundreds of students boycotted the exam and staged demonstrations outside the exam centre.

The research fellowships are awarded by Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute (BARTI), Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research, Training and Human Development Institute (SARTHI) and MahaJyoti.

BARTI and MahaJyoti are autonomous institutes under the Department of Social Justice and Special Assistance and the OBC class Bahujan Welfare Department, respectively, of the Maharashtra government. SARTHI is also an autonomous body under the state government.

One of the agitating students in Pune claimed that usually sets of four question papers – A, B, C, and D – are distributed among the students appearing for CET.

“However, when students received the exam papers today, they found that B and D sets were not sealed. If the exam paper set is not sealed, it means they are already leaked,” he claimed.

Another student said PhD-holders should be exempted from clearing the entrance examination for the research as the aspirants are SET and NET qualified.

“As they have already proved themselves academically, why should they be asked to appear for the CET exam for research fellowship?” asked another student.

Notably, the scheduled CET for the research fellowships for SARTHI, BARTI, and MahaJyoti was cancelled on December 24, 2023 as the question paper turned out to be the same as that of SET 2019. The new test was organised on Wednesday by the Savitribai Phule Pune University’s SET Examination Unit.

The SPPU refuted the allegations of the question paper leak.

“The printing format might have been changed as all four sets of papers were printed by two different agencies. All question papers were printed with confidentiality and as per security norms. The sealed question papers were taken to the exam centres,” the SPPU stated. 

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