South Asian University asks students to evict hostels amid pandemic & lockdown 

The university, sponsored by the eight member states of SAARC, has asked students of fourth semester to vacate their hostels by July 27, saying they needed to move forward as degrees have been given

South Asian University. Source: MEA website
South Asian University. Source: MEA website

NH Political Bureau

The Delhi based South Asian University (SAU) – an international university sponsored by the eight-member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – has asked students of the fourth semester to vacate their hostels by July 27.

Signed by Sunil Kumar, Dean of Students, the notice says, “All the students of 4th semester of the master program who have given their final examinations are directed to vacate the hostel by 27th July 2020. No request for the extension in this regard will be entertained.”

Enraged by the university’s decision, students say they are not in a position to leave hostels amid the Corona pandemic as:

  • Due to the lockdown, there is no or least transportation available on the road
  • Train and flight tickets are costlier now
  • Students from the neighbouring countries cannot go back to their home due to the ban on international flights

Currently, there are 50-60 students in the fourth semester which comprises students from the neighboring countries also. The admission policy is based on the country-wise quota system. India as a founding member can avail 50 percent of the quota.

It is worth noting here that former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proposed the establishment of a South Asian University at the thirteenth SAARC Summit held in Dhaka in November 2005.

India provided the majority of funds, around US$239.93 million, for the foundation of the University which is around 79 percent of the total cost of the full establishment of the University until 2014.

A student who did not wish to be named told NH that there are many students who left the campus right before the lockdown, leaving their luggage and stuff in the hostel.

“How can students from distant cities and neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bangladesh vacate their room within the next 3 days?” he asked.

Akhand Pratap Rai, who is perusing LLM from the university, has shot off a letter to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and SARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, after failing to get any relief from the university administration.

“The University failed to provide any objective assessment of ground situations prevailing in India as a whole and some of the particular states of India. The university in the notice failed to provide any reasonable grounds for the hostel vacation. It unnecessarily created havoc amongst students as they are left no opportunity to book to train ticket within this short time,” said Akhand in his letter that was sent to the MEA.

“If anything related to health and the fundamental human rights towards the protection of life and guarantee of minimum well-being of my family members and mine is adversary affected upon or during my arrival at home, the University shall be liable for all consequences bearings, therefore,” he added.

Rai told NH that the MEA replied, “no assurance was given as such.”

While students demand that the university should withhold the notice, the university says “since students have already received their degree, they need to move forward for their career.”

“This is an unacceptable complaint,” said Yuba Raj Pokharel, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Life Science and Biotechnology, in reply to a mail written by Rai.

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