Thousands of college teachers from all over India will demonstrate outside the University Grants Commission (UGC) office on Monday demanding relaxation in eligibility norms for those who did their PhD before 2009 without qualifying for the national eligibility test (NET) or state level eligibility test (SLET).
The teachers, who have met HRD minister Smriti Irani and UGC officials, have said that without relaxation, nearly 10 lakh teachers all over the country will lose their jobs. Though Irani has promised to look into the grievance, UGC officials said it would be difficult to relax the criteria now. “Supreme Court has upheld our regulation,” an official said.
The threat of job loss emanates from the Supreme Court order of March this year that upheld UGC’s 2009 regulation on minimum qualifications required for teaching jobs in colleges and universities.
The apex court had said, “It is clear that the object of the directions of the central government read with the UGC regulations of 2009/2010 are to maintain excellence in standards of higher education. Keeping this object in mind, a minimum eligibility condition of passing the national eligibility test is laid down. True, there may have been exemptions laid down by the UGC in the past, but the central government now as a matter of policy feels that any exemption would compromise the excellence of teaching standards in universities/colleges/institutions governed by the UGC. Obviously, there is nothing arbitrary or discriminatory in this. In fact, it is a core function of the UGC to see that such standards do not get diluted.”
The SC had also set aside orders of several high courts staying UGC’s 2009 regulation.
However, the agitating teachers pointed out that there was a tradition of relaxation given by UGC. Sunil Pant of Kumaon University said, “In 1992, the first relaxation was given and PhD holders without NET and SLET were allowed to teach. Another relaxation came in 2002 which was extended till 2006. Then came the 2009 regulation which apart from mandating NET/SLET also made entrance test and six months course work mandatory. Anyone who was awarded PhD before July 11, 2009 is considered ineligible.”
Pant said this has created a piquant situation. “What happens to those who registered for PhD in June 2009 but were awarded the degree in 2014. Obviously, he did PhD under the old regulation so will he become ineligible?” he asked.