Published: 09th November 2021
PhD qualification for Assistant Professors 'unfavourable' for current education system: Pradhan
The absence of a PhD requirement hasn't stopped universities from preferring candidates with a PhD qualification. While the education minister calls it unfavourable, teachers call it discriminatory
Should it be mandatory for aspirants applying for the post of Assistant Professor in colleges to possess a PhD?
Well, that pot has been stirred yet again after Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that a PhD for assistant professors is 'unfavourable' in the present education system. Pradhan's remarks came at the convocation ceremony of Allahabad University, where he was invited as the Chief Guest.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) had put a stay on its 2018 decision to make PhD a required qualification for appointment to the post of Assistant Professors. This was done in early October this year, with the intention of filling up the large number of vacant seats in colleges. The date for qualifying PhD in order to apply for Assistant Professor was also extended from July 2021 to July 2023 in light of the pandemic. The Education Minister had said last month that the PhD requirement would cause a shortage in qualified lecturers at institutions and had put the order on a temporary hold. According to government data, there are more than 6,000 vacant faculty posts across 46 central universities in India.
However, despite the absence of a mandatory requirement, a PhD seems to be a de facto plus point for those applying for the post of assistant professor. Delhi University's criteria for the appointment of assistant professors is a case in point. The proposed rules stipulate either a National Entrance Test (NET) qualification or a PhD for those looking for a chance to work at DU as Assistant Professor, regardless of whether they have been ad-hoc teachers at the varsity or not.
Not all temporary teachers have a PhD and this can weed them out of the shortlist for a permanent appointment as there are marks assigned to each level of academic qualification. Protesting against the criteria, the Delhi University Teachers Union (DUTA) had written to the VC, Yogesh Singh in a letter late in October. "The screening criteria awards 25 per cent weightage to PhD degrees — a disproportionate sum that will exclude all candidates without PhDs. This will be particularly discriminatory in disciplines like English, Economics, Commerce, History and Mathematics where PhDs are difficult to attain early in career," read the correspondence.
While it isn't clear what factors the Education Minister had in mind when he said that a PhD requirement would unfavourable for the 'current education system', it would be interesting to see if universities like DU make any adjustments to their selection criteria.