Compulsory doctorate for academic posts postponed due to the pandemic
India’s Ministry of Education has decided to postpone plans to make doctoral degrees a mandatory requirement this year for assistant professor appointments – the entry-level position for academics wishing to become professors at public research universities. . The reason is the disruption suffered by doctoral students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on September 29: “The requirement for a doctorate has been temporarily lifted to open up the post to more applicants and fill vacant posts.
Pradhan continued, “Several applicants who could not meet the doctorate requirement had asked the ministry to suspend the 2018 guidelines that make the doctorate essential for university-level teaching for the entry-level assistant professor designation. . “
In 2018, the ministry granted a three-year window for applicants to complete their doctorate and requested all higher education institutions to require a doctorate degree for appointments from the 2021-22 academic year beginning. July 1.
However, many students were unable to complete their doctorates within the stipulated three-year period due to the closure of universities, libraries and laboratories and travel restrictions during the pandemic, and they requested the postponement of the doctorate requirement.
A doctoral requirement is a global standard for quality teaching at higher education level and many countries are trying to improve the quality of education by making it a minimum requirement for those on their way to becoming full professors. .
The education ministry said it has relaxed the requirement – temporarily – to allow higher education institutions to fill vacant positions. Applicants who have qualified through the National Eligibility Test (NET), a competition administered by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for academics with a master’s degree, will continue to be eligible to apply for the position of assistant professor, the ministry said.
NET is the minimum qualification for Indian nationals for positions in state-funded colleges and lower undergraduate education in universities, to ensure minimum standards for those entering the teaching and research profession.
Every year, thousands of students in India take this exam to become assistant professor or junior researcher. Applicants with at least 55% of marks in their master’s degree are eligible to take the NET. The test is held twice a year in humanities (including languages), social sciences, forensic sciences, environmental sciences, computer science and electronic sciences.
An official at the highest regulatory body, UGC, noted some ambiguity as to when the mandatory requirement could be notified. Given the pandemic, it seemed that the doctorate as an entry level requirement would have to be postponed for a year or two, although the matter is still under consideration at UGC, he said. .
About 10,000 teaching and non-teaching positions are vacant in elite state-funded universities alone, and the situation is even more alarming in universities funded by state governments. This is in part due to the increase in higher education enrollments as the government pushes its goal of greater access to higher education.
Academics say the problem of faculty shortages has long persisted, and institutions have appointed large numbers of part-time or ad hoc faculty to ensure continuity of courses and programs as the number of students entering universities increases.
Dr Dheeraj Sanghi, vice-chancellor of JK Lakshmipat University, a private institution in Jaipur, Rajasthan, said that experimental research has been left out for the past 18 months and there is a need to allow people without a doctorate to teach.
“There is a serious shortage of doctors in India. If we are to look at the higher education system, everyone should have a doctorate. But I think it can take decades to produce so many doctorates.
“It’s a good idea to let universities decide whether they want to hire a doctoral student or a non-doctoral student,” he said. News from academia.
The number of students pursuing higher education has increased, with the Gross Enrollment Rate (GER) in higher education in India reaching 27.1% for 2019-2020, from 26.3% the previous year, according to All India Higher Education Survey (AISHE) Report 2019-20 published in June 2021. GER was 25.2% in 2016.
The GER is the ratio between enrollments in higher education and the population in the 18-23 age group. The AISHE report also found that the total number of higher education enrollments was 38.5 million in 2019-2020, compared to 37.4 million in 2018-2019.
Academics say the number of teachers has not increased to match the number of students.
“Let it be private [university] expansion or public expansion, this expansion needs more teachers, ”Sanghi said, adding that the growth has been very high over the past 10 to 15 years. “In the government sector too, we have seen a lot of new Indian institutes of technology, central universities, state universities, etc.
Pankaj Mittal, secretary general of the Association of Indian Universities, said the decision to postpone was due to an unprecedented COVID situation. She believed that with the NET in place, changing the requirement will not affect the quality of teaching and research.
“It’s not that both conditions are lifted,” she said. News from academia, referring to NET as a qualifier in the country.
Until now, there was no mandatory doctorate requirement, she said. “In 2020-2021, it was to be introduced for the first time, so it will only be a one-year delayed implementation,” she said, adding that it had been decided “in the interest of students who wish to become [university] teachers”.
The president of the Delhi University Teachers Association, Rajib Ray, also said that the temporary suspension of the requirement would not affect the quality of teaching. “Whether good or bad, she [teaching] continued, and these are teachers who have produced great students for so long.
“If they are good at teaching in undergraduate colleges all over the country, why will it affect the quality of teaching if they teach the same things and at most there will be [people with] a master’s degree in a few departments. A doctorate alone cannot be a criterion of quality, he said News from academia.
Besides, Ray said of early-career speakers, “If you stop them from teaching, then who will teach? “