PhD optional but need NET/SET/SLET for Assistant Professor post, said UGC. Experts react

Save Higher Education Forum State Coordinator R Murali said the UGC had several times changed the minimum qualification in the past 15 years
File photo of UGC Chairman | (Pic: PTI)
File photo of UGC Chairman | (Pic: PTI)

Even as teaching job aspirants and representatives of teachers' associations have welcomed the UGC's recent decision to make the National Eligibility Test (NET), State Eligibility Test (SET), and State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) the minimum criteria for direct recruitment to the post of assistant professor in all higher education institutions, a few academicians and association heads are unsure of the new regulation's desired outcome, stated a report in The New Indian Express.

UGC Secretary Prof Manish Joshi had also announced that PhD would be optional for appointment to the assistant professor post.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, former Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU) Prof S Krishnaswamy said NET was introduced around 1989. "Back then, if you clear Category I NET, you are eligible for fellowship and teaching, and if you clear category II NET, you are eligible for teaching alone. If a teacher without a PhD is appointed to the post, he or she would not know much about research and won't be able to guide scholars. But teaching regular students wouldn't be a problem. The problem now is instead of warding off corruption in the recruitment process, the UGC is introducing meaningless rules. The solution lies in empowering students and democratising the system," Krishnaswamy said.

Meanwhile, UGC-qualified Guest Lecturers Association President V Thanagaraj said the new order will create several issues for the PhD holders, whose degrees do not satisfy the UGC 2009 and 2016 regulations. "They are alleging that state-run universities, especially Annamalai University, and government-aided colleges had appointed assistant professors in violation of UGC norms. But, no legal action has been taken against them since 2016. The UGC must empower authorities to curb these kinds of violations. For the past eight years, the Tamil Nadu government has not filled the permanent vacancies in government colleges," he said.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, Save Higher Education Forum State Coordinator R Murali said the UGC had several times changed the minimum qualification in the past 15 years. "Going back on its earlier directives about the PhD qualification all of a sudden is not fair. A few reformations such as cancelling the Paper I test, and conducting the recruitment test in all regional languages, should be introduced. Also, the SET examination must be conducted at regular intervals," he said.

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