After UGC’s Amendment, States to Revise Eligibility Norms for Assistant Professors

With the higher education sector facing a serious faculty crunch, the decision of the University Grants Commission (UGC) on relaxation of minimum eligibility conditions for appointment of assistant professors in universities and colleges has been welcomed by majority of academicians in the region.

As per the amended regulations, candidates who have registered for M.Phil/Ph.D programme before July 11, 2009 have now been exempted from clearing the National Eligibility Test (NET) or the State-Level Eligibility Test (SLET). Read full details about UGC’s Ammendements here

Earlier, all PhD holders were required to clear the NET/SLET for being eligible to be appointed as assistant professors.

The decision for exemption of this norm was taken by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) last week, keeping in mind the shortage of faculty members in institutions of higher education across the country.

“If you consider the exemption that has been given by the MHRD, there are several conditions that are applicable along with it. For instance, the Ph.D degree should have been awarded only in the regular mode and the candidate must have published at least two papers based on his/her Ph.D thesis. So, the MHRD has actually ensured that by relaxation of certain norms, the standard of education is not compromised,” said Professor Karamjeet Singh Dhillon, teaching at one of the regional centres of Panjab University.

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The amended regulations also state that the candidate’s research thesis should have been evaluated by at least two external examiners, and the candidate should have also made at least two presentations at national conferences.

UGC’s recent amendment relaxing the eligibility norms for selection process of assistant professor posts may hamper MPPSC examination scheduled for filling 2,400 vacancies in the state. Read more details abouve notification here

After a gap of nearly 20 years, the MPPSC had last year invited applications for nearly 1650 posts of assistant professor lying vacant at government colleges in the state. At that time, the eligibility criteria were NET qualification or PhD degree. However, the selection process was cancelled in September last year after the UGC made NET qualification mandatory for candidates who had obtained or registered for PhD degrees.

Following the directives by the DHE, the MPPSC had invited applications for nearly 2400 posts stating that either the PhD degree holders had obtained degree as per Regulations-2009 or had cleared NET along with PhD degree. Thousands of candidates who had obtained or registered for PhD degrees prior to the regulations had become ineligible for the post.

But now has the UGC has changed the eligibility criteria again and all such candidates have also become eligible for the post.

MPPSC secretary, Manohar Dubey said that the right to decide eligibility criteria in the state lies with the DHE. “We will act on the directions of the DHE,” he added.

The last date to apply for the post is April 28. If the DHE has to make any amendment in the eligibility criteria it has to make the same before the said date.

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Amended UGC norms may help fill vacant faculty posts

Even in Punjab, close to 50 percent of faculty positions in government and non-government colleges are lying vacant or have been filled by guest/ad-hoc faculties.

“Even though this is not a permanent solution to the existing shortage of teachers in colleges and universities, this will definitely help in filling up the vacant positions for now,” said Professor Nirmal Singh.

At several regional centres of Panjab University and other government and non-government colleges across the state, there has been a shortage in the number of applicants applying for the posts of professors as well.

According to the report of the UGC-appointed Task Force in 2010, over 35 percent of the faculty positions at central universities across India are lying vacant.

However, according to President of Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union Professor Jagwant Singh, the amended norms for exemption are rather unclear, and do not offer a long-term solution to the issue of shortage of faculty members.

“The recommendation has come after almost seven years of consideration of the issue by the UGC, and is a poorly drafted suggestion. The Centre has to understand that a distinction cannot be made in Ph.D norms on the basis of differences in the date of issue of the degree. These norms can be made for future Ph.D holders, but this distinction is unjustified.”

Reference: The Indian Express (link), Times of India (link), The Free Press Journal (link)

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