UNION HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has “advised” Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to permit additional MPhil/PhD admissions in departments where the UGC-mandated cap on MPhil/PhD scholars for each teacher has not been fulfilled. Javadekar has suggested that JNU teachers, who are not supervising any research scholars at this moment, should be encouraged to take in students in order to alleviate the effects of 2016 UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of MPhil/PhD Degrees) Regulations implemented by the university this year. Speaking to The Indian Express on Wednesday, he said, “I do not micromanage. They (JNU) are independent. A university has to be autonomous.
But when they (JNU V-C) came for a seminar (recently), I advised that they should ensure that if somebody (a teacher without any research scholar) does not want to take students that is his choice. But if he is ready (to guide research scholars) then you should encourage it. We have no intention to reduce intake. In fact, we want more PHDs to come in.”
He added, “That apart, there are 300 teacher vacancies in JNU. Teaching posts reserved for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and physically challenged are not filled. By December, we hope all of these vacancies will be filled and then the number (of student intake) will be the same or even more than last year.” JNU will admit only 242 research scholars this year, a 75 per cent drop from last year’s 970 seats.
This is happening on account of the new UGC regulation under which a professor cannot guide more than three MPhil and eight PhD scholars, an associate professor a maximum of two MPhil and six PhD scholars and an assistant professor not more than one MPhil and four PhD scholars. According to JNU sources, the Vice-Chancellor has been advised by the government to not divide the excess student load of one professor among remaining teachers of the same department while calculating fresh admissions.
“There are many departments where one professor is guiding 30 students, but, at the same time, his or her colleagues are either supervising none or haven’t fulfilled the UGC cap. The government has suggested to the V-C to allow teachers with no or few scholars to supervise more students. As per the ministry’s calculation, if we permit this and fill up the 300 vacant teaching positions, then JNU can admit over 1200 students more by December,” said a university source, who did not wish to be identified.
Despite repeated attempts to contact him, JNU V-C Jagadesh Kumar was unavailable for comment.