Cluster University’s circular specifying new ‘internship conditions’ leaves students disappointed

Cluster University’s circular specifying new ‘internship conditions’ leaves students disappointed

Cluster University’s circular specifying new ‘internship conditions’ leaves students disappointed

The Cluster University has issued a notice that bars Journalism students to pursue internships before the sixth semester, leaving students pursuing an internship with various local media houses anguished.

Speaking to The Kashmiriyat, a student from Cluster University who works with a local media house said that several university students are interning with media houses in Kashmir and gaining work experience beforehand doubting that there was an ulterior motive behind the move. 

“ We work with the media house as per our choice and convenience, We do not understand, Why should the University decide what we do after our college hours,” the student wishing to be anonymous said.

He said that he has friends outside Jammu Kashmir who are pursuing journalism and are provided internship opportunities by the educational institutes after the fourth semester so that they may gain maximum field and industrial expertise. 

“ Here in Kashmir, they want us to stop working for some reason, that we do not understand and the timing of this order is very crucial. There has been a slander campaign against the University,” the student said.

On Thursday, the University issued a circular asking the students of the Honors/integrated program in Journalism & Mass Communication run at Government College for Women, M.A. Road, Srinagar to have a compulsory ‘Internship’ component as part of the curriculum approved by the Board of Studies held in April 2018.

“ The stated aim of the 4-week internship in case of 2019 and 2020 Batches and 6-8 week internship in case of the 5-year Integrated program (2021 batch onwards) is to provide industry exposure to students whereby they would get valuable on-the-job practical experience of the field,” the circular stated.

The University asked the students need to follow certain guidelines in letter and spirit. Some of them are stated below:

Students shall not pursue internship any time before semester 6 (in case of 2020 Batch) and before semester 9 (in case of 2021 and subsequent batches) without the prior intimation and approval by the university.

Students shall, on their own or assisted by the department, explore a suitable organization offering internship opportunity in any field related to Mass Communication and Journalism including Content Writing, Reporting, Editing, Photography, Advertising, Public Relations, Anchoring, Video/Audio Production etc.

Once an organization is identified, students need to apply for official approval from the university through Dean Social Sciences. If the application is approved, the student will be intimated and provided official letter for the internship provider.

Once the student or department receives a response from the internship provider verifying that the internship has been offered and approved, the Dean’s office shall be notified and the internship added to the student’s schedule.

Students shall not make any agreements with the internship provider or commit to an internship until the internship application has been approved by the university.

Internship shall be completed in the final semester, in case of 2020 batch, and 9th semester in case of 2021 and subsequent batches, preferably during vacations. 

Internship can help students gain entry-level career skills and provide both experience and a fresh, non-academic reference to improve job prospects. To this end, an organization must have the means to mentor and support an intern.

These guidelines are meant to eschew the practice of students working unauthorizedly with private organizations at the cost of their regular class work. They are also aimed to prevent any instances of students posing as regular or full-time journalists and misusing press credentials.

The guidelines shall also help avoid exploitation element since some opportunities advertised as internships are actually volunteer or contract work wherein the students are asked to work independently, using knowledge and skills they already have, often without pay.

The Students have also been warned of “disciplinary action” if anyone among them is found violating the norms set by the University. 

“ Furthermore, any complaint regarding the conduct of students while interning with any government, semi-government or private organization shall be probed and, if found true, draw strict action as per the university norms,” the circular read.

Scores of students studying in the university are interning with Kashmir based media houses and have played a pivotal role in reporting the facts on the ground. 

These students say that gaining expertise and field knowledge is the utmost requirement for them during the study time. Criticizing the exploitation part mentioned in the circular, another student said, “Money is not the priority for us during college. 

We want to be experienced enough when we go out of the college to work in media bigger houses and we thank the local media houses who give us opportunities to explore and learn.”

Citing that the circular was biased and intended to target certain media houses, the student said, “There are very less media houses left in Kashmir that are reporting the actual situation on the ground and we like to work with such media houses. 

However, after the booking of Sajad Gul under PSA in January, who was also pursuing masters in Journalism, the scrutiny around Kashmiri Journalist students has increased multifold. We all fear that we are being watched, which has led to fear among the students.”

“ It is very demotivating and ironically the order has been confined to the Department of Journalism. They have mentioned ‘exploitation’, We do not see any exploitation happening anywhere, we work in the local media houses as per our convenience. 

The ‘exploitation’ point used by the University is vague. Going by the University’s logic, the exploitation may happen even after the completion of our sixth semester,” the student said.

“After having silenced majority of the press, they want to suppress the new breed of journalists in Kashmir as the local media houses provide us space to do any genre of journalism, they are not bound to any specific narrative,” he told The Kashmiriyat.

Scores of students are psychologically impacted because of this order. “There is already a lot of intimidation which Kashmiri Journalists have faced since 2019, due to which a lot of students have already quit the field of Journalism. 

This order has escalated fear among the Journalism students in the valley. Many of my friends are planning to quit journalism,” the student told The Kashmiriyat.

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