New Delhi: The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has reduced the compulsory grace points given to women candidates as it amended its admission policy after nearly a decade.

“Now female and transgender candidates who have pursued their education from any of the areas in JNU’s list of backward areas are entitled to relaxation of four marks. While girls and transgenders not belonging to any backward areas can get a relaxation of only two points," a senior university official said.

Until now, all female admission seekers were entitled to 5 “deprivation" points in the entrance exam. In addition, if they belonged to backward areas listed by JNU under Quartile 1 (demarcation of backward areas) and Quartile 2 categories, they got additional privilege of 5 and 3 marks, respectively. The compulsory 5 points given to women were introduced in 1994.

The move has drawn severe criticism from a section of students and teachers who have decided to launch an agitation against the administration.

“Girls used to get an excessive advantage in comparison to male candidates. For instance, if a girl belonged to a Quartile 1 district, she would get a total relaxation of 10 marks, which will place her way above a more competent male candidate," the official said. “So, the standing committee for admissions took the decision to modify the policy after deliberating upon all factors," he said.

The students alleged that the statutory procedures for introducing such changes have been “bypassed" and no official notification of the amendments has been issued.

“Any such crucial change has to be placed before the Academic Council (AC) and opinion of the members of students union has to be taken into account. However, the matter was neither discussed nor conveyed to anybody and we got to know about the changes only from new prospectus," JNU students union vice president Shehla Rashid Shora said.

Sucheta De, National President of All India Students Association (AISA) and former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president, said “these changes have presumably been made on the premise that women in only backward regions are more vulnerable and deprived, more shackled by society’s patriarchal norms. We cannot deny the fact that cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad are also home to a range of women with grossly unequal access to education."

The merit system applicable during admission is based on the report of JNU’s Centre for the Study of Law and Governance. It conducts research based on parameters such as literacy rate of a district, agricultural productivity and other similar factors.

Through research upgradation, Quartiles are changed when required and this can affect gender points also. The Academic Council considers the recommendations made by the panel of Expert Committee when revision and upgradation are done. Other changes in the admission policy include doing away with 10% relaxation to OBC (Other Backward Class) candidates in the entrance examination.