Delhi University teachers who face the sack after a Supreme Court judgment last month validated a UGC order, which retrospectively debars PhD-holders from teaching jobs if their doctorate programme wasn’t verifiably rigorous enough, are knocking on the doors of Smriti Irani.
Nearly a thousand ad hoc teachers, whose services are renewed every semester, might not get a fresh term at the university after the court order last month.
The court upheld the University Grants Commission regulation on minimum qualification for appointment of teachers in colleges and universities. According to that regulation, the candidates need to have passed the National Eligibility Test or the State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) to be appointed as assistant professors. Only those who had got PhD degrees in line with the norms laid down by the UGC in 2009 would get exemption from NET and SLET.
Till 2009, all PhD-holders were eligible for teachers’ jobs even if they lacked NET/SLET qualification. In view of complaints that many universities were lowering the standards of PhD programmes, the UGC in 2009 for the first time set a uniform standard for the award of MPhil and PhD degrees.
The regulation said that existing PhD-holders would become ineligible for teaching posts unless the institutions that had awarded them the doctorates certified that they had followed the just-prescribed standards.
This regulation attracted criticism from universities across the country for its retrospective implementation. The UGC then set up an anomaly committee to review its own regulation. Following the report of the committee, the UGC last year amended the norms and decided to exempt those who had obtained their PhD degrees before 2009. But the revised regulation is still to be approved by the HRD ministry. The apex court ruling in the meantime has added to the confusion.
The apex court has said the HRD ministry and UGC are apex policy makers in these matters and their norms should be followed. Sources in the ministry said there was no clarity yet whether the revised regulation would be approved.
About 600 of the Delhi University ad hoc teachers who will be affected wrote to Union HRD minister Irani on Monday seeking relief.
Rajesh Kumar Jha, a teacher leader from the university, said the ministry must intervene and ask UGC to allow exemptions to pre-2009 PhD-holders from NET/SLET. “The UGC has given exemption from NET/SLET to PhD-holders so many times. We demand it to extend the exemption,” Jha said.
Saikat Ghosh, a teacher at the university, said the UGC regulation of 2009 has provisions like course work of six months, evaluation of the thesis by external examiners, and not more than 10 students under one research guide.
Of the nearly 4,000 ad hoc teachers in Delhi University colleges, about a thousand do not have NET/SLET qualification or PhD in line with the 2009 regulation.
The regulation will affect thousands of ad hoc teachers across universities.
Ghosh said colleges may not renew their contract in the coming semester and pointed out that Daulat Ram College has already come out with a notification saying it would recruit only in line with the UGC guideline.
UGC chairman Ved Prakash would not comment. When contacted, he said: “I am in a meeting.”