HRD Minister Smriti Irani Sunday announced the rollback of the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) decision to scrap the non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship scheme, which had sparked massive protests by students.
Irani took to Twitter to announce the decision, right after she met a delegation of students associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Sunday afternoon. The scheme, she said, will now cover research scholars of state universities too and the fellowship amount will be transferred directly to the beneficiaries’ bank account.
The non-NET fellowship provided financial assistance of Rs 5,000 per month for 18 months to MPhil students and Rs 8,000 per month for four years to PhD students. This was limited to research scholars of central universities.
The UGC decided to discontinue the fellowship on October 7, on the grounds that the scheme lacked accountability and transparency. However, after protests by students,the HRD Ministry asked the UGC to refer its decision to an expert committee last Friday. Irani on Sunday said the ministry was not only in favour of continuing the scheme, but also wants to bring it within the ambit of the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme.