THE COMPETITION for PhD seats will get even tougher now. As per the new rules or minimum standards for PhD and MPhil degrees formulated by the University Grants Commission, which were received by Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) officials only last week, the number of PhD candidates that an associate professor and assistant professor can take are now restricted.
As compared to eight students per PhD guide, which was the norm earlier, now research supervisors who are full-time professors, can take eight PhD scholars, associate professors can take up to six PhD scholars and assistant professors can guide up to four PhD scholars.
Earlier, irrespective of their position, all approved research guides were allowed to take up to eight PhD scholars each.
While experts say that the decision taken by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to limit the number of candidates a faculty member can guide at a time is taken to ensure the quality of research in M.Phil and PhD students but it will lead to greater competition for PhD seats amongst aspirants.
There are about 1,500 registered PhD guides under the SPPU and about 3,500 PhD seats are vacant, said authorities.
Dr VB Gaikwad, director, Board of College and University Development (BCUD), SPPU, said that the new norms would be adopted within 15 days after the varsity formulates its own rules based on the GR issued by the UGC. “The biggest advantage of the GR is that it brings uniformity in the norms adopted related to PhD guides and candidates. The GR specifies the eligibility, duration, allocation and such criteria. It also appears that the restriction of candidates per guide and increasing minimum time duration for completing PhD degree to three years from two years is a move to bring improvement in quality of research. However, it will definitely mean more competition for the available PhD degree seats amongst aspirants,” he said.
Stating the number of PhD aspirants has been increasing consistently each year, Nandkumar Nikam, principal of CT Bora College in Shirur and PhD guide said that the new rules would make getting a seat tougher. However, even if it meant more competition, academicians welcomed the move.
“Unlike earlier, when PhD was done out of choice, now it has become a compulsion for many for career advancements. Hence, every year we see many candidates registering for PhD. With lesser seats as per the new rules, it means more competition. But a professor who is expected to have 12 teaching hours per week has more time for research unlike assistant professor who has 20 working hours, so qualitatively it is a good move,” he said.
The other argument is that assistant professors have lesser research experience than professors. “After three years of completing PhD and five papers in repeated journal, an assistant professor qualifies for research guide position. Naturally, their experience is limited. Also, it is not possible to complete PhD in two years, hence, three years’ norm is welcome. The new norms in line with the protocols adopted by reputed institutions,” said Dr Shashikala Gurpur, dean of Symbiosis Law School.