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New Regulations for Awarding PhDs 

Context:

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has made sweeping changes in its latest regulations governing the award of PhDs.
Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are the key changes?
  2. How will research scholars be evaluated under the new regulations?
  3. Concerns

What are the key changes?

The UGC notified the University Grants Commission (Minimum Standards and Procedures for Award of PhD Degree) Regulations, 2022.

Evaluation and assessment criteria:
  • One of the notable changes it made was to the evaluation and assessment criteria for the award of the degree, where it has waived the need to mandatorily publish a research paper in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • This is accompanied by completely abolishing MPhil, which has been a gateway for PhD programmes, in line with the recommendation in the National Education Policy 2020.
Eligibility criteria:
  • The eligibility criteria for admissions too have been revised, and a candidate can register after completing a one-year (or two semester) master’s degree programme after a four-year (or 8-semester) bachelor’s degree programme or a two-year (or four-semester) master’s degree programme after a three-year bachelor’s degree programme with at least 55% marks or its equivalent grade.
Course work:
  • Earlier, the description of course work candidates needed to finish was more detailed, with at least four credits assigned to courses on research methodology.
  • Candidates were also required to finish this either in the first semester, or by the second semester.
  • Only candidates who were awarded MPhil or had completed their MPhil were exempted.
  • But the new regulations leave it more open ended and says that all PhD scholars “shall be required to train in teaching/ education/ pedagogy/ writing related to their chosen PhD subject.”
  • They can also now be assigned 4-6 hours per week of teaching/research assistantship for conducting tutorial, or laboratory work and evaluations.
  • The UGC now also allows part-time PhDs, a practice that was disallowed under the 2009 and 2016 regulations.

How will research scholars be evaluated under the new regulations?

  • PhD scholars will be required to undertake research work after completing their course work, make a presentation and produce a draft dissertation or thesis.
  • If the evaluation of the submission is satisfactory, the candidate will have to defend the thesis in a public viva voce.
  • They will not have to publish a research paper in refereed journal and make two paper presentations in conferences or seminars before submitting the thesis.
  • The Chairman of UGC says that while publishing a paper in a peer-reviewed journal is not mandatory anymore in order to curb unethical practices such as pay-to-publish or plagiarism, students should be motivated and trained to publish in peer-reviewed journals and present at conferences.
  • He says that a one-size-fits-all approach is not desirable as doctorals in computer science prefer presenting their papers at conferences rather than publishing them in journals.

Concerns

  • Discontinuing MPhils, along with the introduction of four-year BA course and 2-year MA course with multiple exits will hurt socially disadvantaged groups who may not be able to pay for longer-duration courses and may have to exit earlier, which will put them at a disadvantage in the job market.
  • While a four-year Bachelors course will allow some students to pursue Masters abroad without studying for one more year, others will be discriminated against.
  • Though UGC says the move is intended to attract younger students for research.
  • There are also concerns over diminishing scholarships and fellowships to support PhD scholars as well as severe shortage of teachers, impacting the number of research supervisors available.

-Source: The Hindu


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December 2022
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