India’s university regulator proposes changes in PhD programmes

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India’s university education regulator known as the University Grants Commission (UGC) has proposed radical changes at the PhD level are conducted.

It also sought to reform the way research scholars are enrolled with reforms that include a mandatory two-stage selection process even in private institutions and compulsory internships with policy organisations during the course period.

Through the proposed minimum standards and procedures for the award of M Phil and PhD degree regulations, the UGC wants to ensure that researchers should have at least 55 per cent marks and get enrolled through a national or state or university level entrance test.

According to New Indian Express, the suggestions have been put together by a four-member committee, headed by former Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, director P Balram.

The panel was tasked with recommending ways to improve the quality and standard of research. The regulations, compiled by the committee, have now been released in public domain by the UGC before they are notified.

The committee, in its report, has noted that while the number of students opting to pursue research doubled from 77,798 in 2010- 11 to 1,61,412 in 2017-18, the percentage of PhD enrolments showed a declining trend in government-run institutes — both central and state — as well as institutes of national importance such as the IITs.

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The number of enrolments in private deemed universities, on the other hand, has risen significantly.

“This may have a reflection on the quality of research produced at the doctoral degree level,” the committee noted.

It highlighted that the primary reason for this surge is mainly due to making PhD as one of the pre-requisites for entry for faculty positions in universities and also for career advancements.

Educationists have welcomed government intervention to raise the quality of research in India.

“It’s a matter of shame that in a country of nearly 1.35 billion so little quality research is happening that could be acknowledged globally,” said a professor of mathematics at Zakir Hussain College in Delhi University.

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