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Quota Tweak: UGC Sets Level Playing Field for NET


The University Grants Commission has decided to rework the eligibility criteria for the popular National Eligibility Test to ensure a “level playing field” for general category candidates.

The decision, which may stir a fresh debate on reservation, was taken at a meeting of the higher education regulator on Wednesday, officials told ET.

The NET determines entry into the higher education teaching profession and is conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education on behalf of UGC.

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UGC has decided that 6% of the candidates appearing for the NET be declared as qualifying to be eligible for the entry level position of assistant professor and that the reservation policy be applied to this 6%.

What It Changes
UGC’s existing rules say the top 15% candidates from each of the four reserved categories on the merit list will be declared qualified for eligibility for the post of assistant professor but prescribe lower minimum marks for candidates from reserved categories.

As per the current UGC norms regarding the procedure and criteria for declaration of NET results, the merit list of candidates who secured minimum marks would be prepared subject-wise as also reserved category-wise (other backward classes, disabled persons, SCs and STs) based on the aggregate marks secured by the candidates in all the three papers and the top 15% candidates in all the categories will be declared NET qualified for eligibility for assistant professors.

Why This Change
The UGC decision has come following a Kerala HC order in January 2017, on a writ petition filed by the Nair Service Society, which struck down UGC-NET criteria giving relaxation of marks to reserved categories as unconstitutional and as a move unfavourable and biased against the general candidates. The UGC decision, now ratified, will soon be communicated to the CBSE as well.

Petitioners in the HC had argued that because of lower minimum marks prescribed for the candidates belonging to the reserved categories, more candidates from these categories inevitably secured minimum marks and qualified for assistant professorship vis-a-vis the number of general category candidates.

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The Fine Print
Following the HC order, the UGC set up a committee that has mined NET exam data trends for the past 20 years before recommending a new formula. This committee has said that on average 5.5-6% candidates across various categories manage to qualify in the NET.

It recommended accordingly that no more than 6% candidates be declared to have qualified the NET. This means that if 600,000 candidates appear in UGC-NET in a particular cycle, 6% of those, i.e., 36,000 qualifying slots for eligibility for an assistant professor are to be earmarked for different categories as per the Centre’s policy in this regard.


As per the current reservation policy, a minimum of 27%, 15%, 7.5% and 3% of slots are reserved for the OBCs (belonging to non-creamy layer), SC, ST and persons with disabilities respectively.

The method for allocation of these candidates and the various disciplines will be the same as is now applicable for the UGC junior research fellowship.


News Courtesy: The Economics​Times (link)


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