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Nudging others to ‘do something’ about looming Covid-grad crisis, Jindal U earmarks Rs 1.5 cr for 100 emergency scholarships (incl 40 for JGLS)

JGLS shifts to scholarship alternatives as job and PG market likely to come under serious stress
JGLS shifts to scholarship alternatives as job and PG market likely to come under serious stress

The mainstream press have reported over the last few weeks that OP Jindal Global University and its subsidiary law school, JGLS Sonepat, have launched 100 scholarships for students facing the economic and general fallout from Covid-19, dubbed “graduate research immersion scholarships” or more succinctly, GRIPS.

There has also been considerable interest from readers, so we have asked JGLS founding dean and JGU vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Raj Kumar for some more details of how it will work.

First off, the GRIPS scheme offers scholarships for 100 students, of whom 40 will be from the law school. Those students will be assigned to a professor at the university and work under them for six months.

The idea would be for the students to publish articles and assist in research but more importantly than that, said Kumar, “the vision is to give them some time and space to figure out their future but instead of doing that sitting at home and not connected to the world at large”.

“You can compare it to the equivalent to a gap year,” said Kumar, referencing the time out that students sometimes take after or before university, particularly in the West, but added that it would be “particularly for those who are interested to immerse themselves in a research ecosystem” but not necessarily only for those “who want to become an academic”.

Each student would receive free accommodation on campus, health insurance coverage as well as a stipend of Rs 10,000 per month; normally research positions of this kind would be unpaid, noted Kumar.

The total budgetary allocation JGU was making for the programme: Rs 1.5 crores.

Extraordinary times

The scholarship is likely not going to be a regular thing but appears a very Covid-specific measure, as the jobs and even postgraduate academic market for 2020 graduates is looking increasingly tough as the pandemic drags on globally and locally.

“We have not done this any time before and may not do in future also,” noted Kumar about the programme. “Just this year we’ve realised those who have admissions abroad may not be able to go, those who have got jobs are slightly delayed, and those who are planning to [join] jobs are not getting jobs [to start on time].”

“A lot of ours students have got admission to Oxford, Columbia, Cambridge, you name it, but unfortunately they are unlikely to be going,” he added.

As of last week, the university had received 150 applications for its 100 scholarships and it’s likely more by this week, considering the law school (which is the biggest JGU college) has 600 students per five-year LLB batch alone.

The selection process includes a statement of purpose (SOP), as well as a minimum CGPA requirement to be eligible (though it was not only for top rankers, he said).

The future may be bleak but could become interesting...

Kumar said that he hoped JGU’s GRIPS would “nudge other law schools in India”, which could “easily do something” to help students in the current climate.

“I think we have to be preparing ourselves for an even more uncertain future for the next one year, at a minimum,” he said. “That’s why law graduates need to be more flexible and adaptable and prepare to do things they weren’t going to do before.”

“I think there’s tremendous scope for legal academia,” he added, noting that the “crisis in the legal sector will only unravel in the next 6 months to a year, when business centres will show [the Covid] impact”.

“At the top level there will be enough opportunity”, Kumar predicted about law firm and in-house jobs, but noted that there was “going to be a significant and adverse impact” across the wider commercial and corporate sector. “I am very hopeful about the future: we need to diversify career options, and the historical obsession to corporate law firm jobs, needs to give way to new ways of looking at the legal profession.”

Due disclosure: JGLS is an advertiser on Legally India.

Photo by Nick Youngson

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