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इंडियन आवाज़     13 Apr 2021 10:53:06      انڈین آواز

After criticism, Ashoka varsity founders promise ombudsperson for academic freedom

The founders of Ashoka University on Monday promised to appoint an ombudsperson by March 31 to ensure academic freedom. The move came after sharp criticism from academics at home and abroad over the resignations of Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian.

“The Founders want to articulate their deep commitment and respect for the autonomy of the University and its academic functioning. With this in mind the Founders are supportive of the appointment of the Ombudsperson by 31st May 2021. The Chancellor and Vice Chancellor will propose candidates for this position for approval by the Governing Body,” a statement from Ashoka University’s Board of Trustees to the faculty said today.

The trustees acknowledged that protocols and processes to maintain a separation of the academic functioning from the Founders needed to be established. “Many processes are already in place but these need to be strengthened. The Founders are open to helping out in the task of strengthening these processes. There is another very important section of the academic community of Ashoka that need to be brought in here. These are the students who are being taught to think critically and to question and doubt. They also have valid concerns about their freedom of expression and the need to be heard by various decision-making bodies. The Founders are conscious of this,” the statement said days after Mehta resigned and later ruled out any possibility of reconsidering his move.

The Board of Trustees statement signed by Ashish Dhawan, Pramath Raj Sinha, Sanjeev Bikhchandani and Vineet Gupta also noted that the varsity’s aim was to enable free enquiry, free expression and intellectual honesty.

“All this cannot be achieved overnight. Ashoka will always be a work in progress. The present moment provides an opportunity to make a fresh start by collectively reaffirming our faith in the vision and ethos of Ashoka. We seek to work together to make Ashoka not only one of the best universities in the world but also an institution that makes a difference to the world,” said the trustees after two faculty resigned citing lack of space for academic freedom

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