UGC Fellowships: Panel to give report in 2 weeks

The protracted deadlock regarding NET and non-NET fellowships may soon be over as a review committee set up by the HRD ministry in October to look into the feasibility and expansion of the benefit to students is expected to submit its recommendations to the ministry within two weeks.

The report will have far-reaching consequences for all universities. The committee members were initially supposed to submit the report by December-end.

The final fourth meeting of the five-member panel — whose mandate includes considering economic criteria for stipend, expanding coverage to state universities, establishing a transparent system for money transfer — will be held on January 16, committee chairman Gautam Barua told this newspaper on Thursday.

“Our last meeting will be held on January 16 and the following week we will submit our recommendations to the ministry of human resources development,” Prof. Barua said.

Surprisingly, there has been no representation from students to the committee despite HRD minister Smriti Irani’s assurance to hear them out when she met Occupy UGC protesters in November, who have been picketing at the UGC Headquarters in Delhi for the past 75 days over the mandate of the committee and fellowship issues.

“We will keep in mind students’ demands which we know through the media,” Prof. Barua said.

The interest of students will be paramount, another committee member told this newspaper on condition of anonymity.

Protests started last year in October after the UGC announced to scrap non-NET fellowship. Students want research stipend increased from Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 for M.Phil. students and from Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000 for Ph.D. scholars and expansion of non-NET fellowship to state universities.

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