The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Tuesday amended its regulation on faculty recruitment to relax the minimum eligibility conditions for appointment of assistant professors in colleges and universities.
The higher education regulator, on advise of the HRD Ministry, exempted candidates registered for M.Phil/PhD programme before July 11, 2009, from clearing the National Eligbility Test (NET) or the State-Level Eligibility Test (SLET) in order to become eligible for appointment as assistant professors in colleges and universities. The decision was taken at UGC’s commission meeting on Monday and was announced by HRD Minister Smriti Irani the same evening.
This exemption, however, is only valid if the candidate has fulfilled certain conditions including his/her PhD degree should be awarded in regular mode, the research thesis should have been evaluated by at least two external examiners, the candidate should have appeared for viva-voce and have published at least two papers based on the Ph.d thesis in research journals and, lastly, the candidate should also have made at least two presentations at conferences or seminars.
Earlier, as per the regulations of 2009 on minimum qualification for appointment of teachers in colleges and universities, UGC made it compulsory for all Ph.D holders to have qualified NET/SLET to become assistant professor. The Supreme Court, too, upheld this regulation in 2015 on the ground that it would help maintain the standard of higher education in the country.
The SC order had left candidates with Ph.D degree before 2009 with little option but to quit their jobs. The UGC’s decision on Tuesday would come as a relief to thousands of such candidates.
On Monday the UGC also relaxed norms allowing female and differently-abled research scholars students eight years instead of the current six years to complete their Ph.D degrees and three years instead of two to complete M.Phil degrees. In addition, women candidates will also be provided maternity, child care leave for up to 240 days once in the entire duration of their M.Phil or Ph.D degrees. The move, Irani said, was aimed at encouraging the entry of women and the differently-abled in research.
Lastly, the higher education regulator also decided to tweak its norms for recognition of autonomous colleges to relax the “licence raj” and its “vice grip” over educational institutions. Colleges which have earned the highest NAAC accreditation grade in three cycles of six years each will be granted autonomous status if it can get a ‘no-objection certificate’ (NOC) from its affiliating university.
As per the recognition norms earlier colleges were subjected to inspection and had to, in addition to an NOC from affiliating university, also get one from the state government.
“This will grant them freedom to design curricula, prescribe syllabi, assess student performance and declare student results,” Irani said.