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Nirma law school blocks emails after students react to fluffy recruitments story in Mirror

When fluffy press releases by law schools hyping up recruitments backfire...
When fluffy press releases by law schools hyping up recruitments backfire...

Nirma University Ahmedabad’s law school has blocked its students’ institutional email addresses allegedly to prevent them from saying unfavourable things about the college, days after students accused Nirma’s administration in leaked group emails of fudging its placement record in the mainstream media, according to the Ahmedabad Mirror.

On 13 May, an email with the subject “misreporting of placements”, sent from one student’s ID to a student mailing list and several staff members, including the faculty coordinator of Nirma’s campus recruitment cell (CRC), had accused the CRC of taking undue credit for the record-breaking placement package of one final year student this year, and of using the mainstream media to send out a false perception of a highly active and successful CRC on campus.

The controversial report

The sender of the email had cited the Mirror’s 13 May report, according to which the highest pay package secured at Nirma this year was Rs 16 lakh, with an average pay package of Rs 5.25 lakh. The report stated that 103 students participated in the CRC’s activities and had a chance at being interviewed by top law firms, companies, PSUs, banks and other corporates.

The Mirror had reported a very brief 2 paragraph story beginning with “Students of the Institute of Law, Nirma University (ILNU) who graduated this year are brimming with joy. The placement season at the varsity peaked with excitement as Rs 16 lakh per annum was the highest pay package on offer, with the average pay package settling at Rs5.25 lakh per annum. A note issued by ILNU stated that of the 231students in the batch, 103 students participated in the placement season this year.”

Referencing this report, the student sender, whose identity we are not disclosing, had stated:

all of us know the person who bagged a package of Rs 16 Lakh, and we all know his talent, skills and capability and, how hard he had to toil to get that job on his own. I know him personally and I know how frustrated he was at the inactivity of the CRC and the lackadaisical attitude of the administration when he did not have that PPO. Now, the Campus Recruitment Committee run by Mrs. Shailja Tripathi has belittled his whole achievement by making it look as if it was the effort put in by the Placement Committee which got him this job.

Well, this magical figure of Rs 5.25 lakhs as the college claims was ‘the average pay package’ needs some explanation. I for the love of my life, can not understand this and boy, I thought Calculus was tough. What I do understand is that about 103 students paid 5000 Rupees each for sitting in the Placements which comes up to roughly about Rs 5.25 lakhs. Voila! (Not forgetting the amazing promises made at the time of taking the money)

Well, the college also bragged about the soft skills training exercise, well, which in reality was more of a CV building exercise which should have happened in the 2nd or 3rd year rather in the 5th year, so that we folks could get some good internships. The P.I. session (Personal Interview) was more of a mockery as they were really short on time and interviews lasted at best three minutes. But, we should not take anything away from them.

The mechanics of fudging

While the 13 May Mirror report did not explicitly state that the CRC won the Rs 16 lakh and other packages for its enrolled students this year, by omitting crucial details, such as which placements were secured through a CRC interview and which had been secured independently, its report could possibly be interpreted to send out a misleading picture of Nirma’s campus placements.

On 16 May, the CRC responded to the student’s 13 May email, with the following defence:

The institute had no aim for publishing its activity and neither in past it has ever resorted to such act. The only aim for publishing the placement of student was to celebrate the the success of his achievement. As news article is to be referred, nowhere it was mentioned that Placement Committee or the Institute had got this offer to the student. The only fact mentioned was that one of our student is able to acquire such high placement, which is a matter of pride for us.

As mentioned that students are manipulated with great placement record and as mentioned by you there are lot of students who are victims of the same 5 years back because nowhere in any communication made placement assurance is being given during admission process. But still if placements take the main focus for deciding the college, it is a sad scenario.

On the aspect of the placement fee, the response stated:

This fees of placement registration which is collected is utilised for the purpose of facilitating placements activities, conducting training and workshops, travel and logistics arrangements of the experts and PR building activities. Nowhere there is any guarantee that by paying Rs. 5000 a person is entitled for getting placed or is guaranteed placements.

The CRC added that it had delivered on its role of providing the soft skills training that the Mirror report mentions, and if there has been any failure it has been due to the lack of student participation.

Historical practices

The Mirror had reported on independently secured placements at Nirma in the same story, which carried details of Nirma’s campus placement efforts, making it look like a cause and effect story because a full list of in-campus placements was not reported. Nirma’s CRC in its response email again reiterated the list of placements in the final year batch, without mentioning which jobs came through the CRC.

It is true that 34 students of the 2017 batch have been placed with law firms SAM, ELP, Wadia Ghandy and Dave & Girish, LPOs Mindcrest and Thomson Reuters, Gujarat Gas, the RBL Bank and the Swachh Bharat Fellowship, but to date the Mirror has not published complete details of which jobs came specifically through the CRC.

The CRC did not respond to our email request for comment since yesterday.

However, institutes taking credit for the individual placement accomplishments of their students while omitting to state to the media whether a reported job was through campus efforts or through the student’s independent efforts, is not new, and the media has been quick to pounce on press releases to craft easy (and presumably popular) headlines about students getting fat salaries.

Just a quick Google search, for instance, reveals a similarly sparse report of placements at CNLU Patna, NLSIU Bangalore, Delhi University and GNLU Gandhinagar to name just a few examples.

Huge sacrifices and sheer hardwork

The Nirma administration, however, reacted in arguably the worst way possible from a PR perspective, with its dean and director Dr Purvi Pokhariyal responding in an email on 13 May, accusing students of defaming the college:

I came to know recently about some very shocking state of affairs. Some of our students indulging and trying to defame the institute where they studying. if any students has got any issue any query can directly write to administration but engaging yourself in an activity which belittle the institute is not tolerated. it’s ultimately damaging the future prospects of you all existing students.

the first and fundamental lesson of law education is not to be judgmental if you do not have facts in your hand. get your facts corrected before you opine and defame your institute on social media. approach an appropriate authority to present your grievances/issues/comment if any. the difference between law man and layman lies here. it’s very easy to belittle an image of an individual or an institute making of which might have taken huge sacrifices and sheer hardwork of many people.

I make a sincere appeal to all of you to take care of this and refrain from any activity which ultimately harms the students’ future prospects.

In anticipation Yours Truly

The entire email communication by students were leaked to Legally India and other publications, with a story published on 15 May by website Libertatem, which was started by a Nirma graduate.

On 18 May, Lawctopus published the full email exchange on its website.

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