Students Welcome UGC Decision to Scrap 100% Weightage for M.Phil, PhD Interviews

New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Thursday rolled back the selection rules for research students, scrapping oral interviews, or viva voce, as the sole criterion for admission to Ph.D and M.Phil programmes, the Indian Express reported.

The higher education regulator has amended the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of M.Phil/PhD Degree) Regulations 2016 to give 70% weightage to performance in the written entrance test and 30% to oral interview for the final selection of a candidate, the report said.

The Commission has also relaxed five percentage points in the minimum marks to be scored in the written test taken by SC, ST and OBC candidates. This means that while a general candidate will have to secure at least 50% in the entrance examination to qualify for the interview or viva voce, a candidate from the reserved category will need to score 45%.

The UGC in 2016 had introduced new regulations, which stipulated that students seeking admission into M.Phil or PhD courses will be required to score a minimum of 50% in the entrance test, as would also be Dalit, tribal and other backward classes students.

The UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of M.Phil/PhD Degrees) Regulations 2016, however, provided for a 5% relaxation in the eligibility criteria for SC, ST and OBC students to apply.

The regulations notified in 2009 had not prescribed any qualifying marks in the entrance test, leaving it up to the university concerned. It did prescribe the minimum eligibility marks, with a relaxation for SCs and STs, not OBCs.

The new regulation in 2016 sparked widespread protests by SC, ST and OBC students, who contended that allowing interviews to be the deciding factor for admission could abet discrimination. The rule, they said, put students from marginalised sections, who may not have strong communication skills, at a disadvantage.

In addition to this, according to the notification, a professor could not supervise more than three M.Phil and eight Ph.D scholars at any one time. Similarly, an associate professor can supervise a maximum of two M.Phil and six Ph.D scholars, and an assistant professor not more than one M.Phil and four Ph.D scholars. Since JNU had already exceeded the cap by a huge margin, it led to a big cut in the intake of research students last year. The UGC policy triggered large-scale protests and agitations among JNU students.

In a press release dated May 25, the JNU Students’ Union called its struggle with the Commission ‘long and hard, describing the rollback a personal victory. “The JNUSU congratulates the students for two years of  uncompromising and tireless struggles in the face of adversity to achieve this substantial victory. It’s determined student struggle which nailed UGC’s anti-social justice designs and forced them retract!” the release said.

The UGC also approved new regulations that permit educational institutions to offer graduate, postgraduate and diploma programmes online. In addition, the regulatory body recommended to the Human Resources Development (HRD) ministry regularisation of the Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Shibpur off-campus centres of Narsee Monjee Institute of Studies and the Hyderabad and Noida off-campus centres of the Pune-based Symbiosis International.


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