Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, a Central University in Lucknow, has ordered its women staffers to seek the vice-chancellor’s permission to stay on duty beyond 6 pm, The Times of India reported on Wednesday.

The order, issued by Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti, has been issued to “ensure the safety of women employees” on campus. “In recent times, there have been a number of untoward incidents, and it is to avoid such episodes that the vice-chancellor has asked women employees not to stay in office beyond 6 pm,” university spokesperson Govind Pandey said. Female staffers will have to seek permission from the vice-chancellor if they need to stay in their office after 6 pm.

The heads of all the varsity’s departments have been instructed to inform the administration in advance if female students have to work beyond the stipulated time.

Several women on campus have criticised the new rules and questioned the efficiency of CCTV cameras, which were installed at a reported cost of Rs 1 crore. “Is this the kind of freedom given to women at work,” the English daily quoted a female employee as asking. “Is the university trying to shut out women in the name of security?”

Others raised concerns about the order affecting work productivity. “The university has two doctors, one male and one female, who do the night shift, which begins after 8 pm, on rotation basis,” a staffer said. “The order means the woman officer cannot report for her night shift... would that not hamper healthcare services?”