The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked universities to stop engaging external supervisors to guide PhD and MPhil scholars, raising question on the fate of scholars pursuing inter-disciplinary research.
In a directive to all universities on July 6, the higher education regulator asked vice-chancellors to stop appointing non-faculties as supervisors.
The directive also made it clear that the degree awarded in such cases would be in violation of regulations. The commission also said that it will take a “very serious view” of those instances where a university appoints non-faculty as supervisors to research scholars and grant PhD and MPhil degrees in such a manner.
“University shall allocate the supervisor from amongst the regular faculty members in the department as well as its affiliated Post Graduate colleges as well as institutes depending on the number of students per faculty member, the available specialisation among the faculty supervisors and the research interest of the student,” the University Grants Commission directive said.
The regulator also noted that it had come to its notice that “some universities” were hiring the service of supervisors who are not regular teachers of the universities .
The regulator further noted that teacher who are not regular teachers of the universities affiliated colleges and institutions awarding the MPhil and PhD degrees were also noted by them.
“This practice is in violation of the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedures for Award of MPhil/ PhD degree) Regulations, 2009,” it added.
The commission’s directive drew sharp criticism from one of its own members, MM Ansari.
MM Ansari questioned its implication on the inter-disciplinary research conducted at various higher educational institutions.
“The University Grants Commission’s circular in question is not specific as to which university is hiring PhD supervisors from outside the university. “ “In cases of interdisciplinary research, the practice of hiring co-supervisors from other institutions is very common.
He also added that “there is no illegality about it.” He added “If University Grants Commission has come to know about any unethical practices in any institution, it should not shy away from identifying the wrong doers,” he said.
University Grants Commission chairman Ved Prakash, however, remained incommunicado.
He did not respond to repeated phone calls. He also did not answer a text message, when attempts were made to seek his clarification.