HCU students face grave COVID-19 crisis; demand free vaccine drive on campus

The Hyderabad Central University (HCU) has been dealing with mounting COVID-19 related cases which are in turn affecting the access to education on campus.  

On Saturday, the HCU Unit of Students Federation of India (SFI) tweeted to TRS Minister K.T. Rama Rao about how the University was largely excluded from the vaccination drive conducted so far in the city and asked him to intervene to amend the situation.

Earlier in April of this year, Mallikarjun a Ph.D. scholar at the School of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Hyderabad passed away due to multiple infections of Covid and Dengue. On speaking to Student Union President Abhishek Nandan, Siasat was informed that more than twelve Covid related deaths have taken place on the campus so far. 

“The Student Union is currently trying to ensure that a free vaccination drive takes place on campus so that the situation improves,” he said.

“The rate of vaccination is abysmal despite continuous protests” notes Sirisha Vepoor, a student pursuing her Ph.D. in Women’s studies.

Abhishek Nandan reiterated the fact that without free vaccinations a lot of students are unable to access the education they deserve. “The lack of academic resources makes it difficult for students within and outside of the campus to pursue their studies with ease. This is also made difficult by the fact that the vaccination drive conducted on campus charged students eight hundred and fifty rupees for Covishield vaccine and one thousand and four hundred rupees for Covaxin which is a huge sum of money for most students.”

Dr. Kanchan Malik, the official spokesperson of the University noted that the first aim of the University was to make vaccines accessible and hence a paid vaccination drive was planned. “We are limited by the availability of vaccines and private hospitals were our only option,” she observes.

The first vaccination drive was carried out in tandem with Continental Hospitals while the second drive was administered by the medical staff of Pranaam Hospitals.

Of the students present on campus, Dr. Malik observes that fifty students (which includes foreign students) have received their first dose so far from the vaccination drive conducted on the 23rd of this month. Some students sought to get vaccinated at the vaccination drives across the city but the situation is still precarious. 

“The University is currently in talks with the state health department to amend the situation. As a part of a courtesy visit on the 25th of June, the Vice-Chancellor of HCU Mr. Arun Agarwal met with Governor Ms. Tamilisai Soundararajan to discuss the same issue to expedite the matter. “Dr. Malik added.

“Most of the students present on campus are research scholars from the Science departments. The situation of marginalized students, off-campus is worse as they are compelled to focus on their familial obligations instead of their studies and hence feel helpless,” says Ajay Kumar, a Ph.D. scholar of the Chemistry Department.

Students across the city find themselves in the same situation as Hyderabad Central University as they appeal to the Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao to repair the crisis.