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UGC’s decision on recruitment of assistant professors: ‘This will bring down the quality,’ say PhD students, professors

There are varied opinions among PhD students, current faculty members, and UGC members regarding the updated minimum qualifications for the position of Assistant Professors.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) recently made an announcement stating that the National Eligibility Test (NET), State Eligibility Test (SET), and State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) will now serve as the minimum requirement for direct recruitment to the position of assistant professor in all universities and colleges. This replaces the previous requirement of holding a PhD. 

Under the revised guidelines, individuals with a Master’s degree must clear UGC-NET/SLET/SET to be eligible for direct recruitment as an Assistant Professor. However, those with a PhD degree are exempt from UGC-NET/SLET/SET and can directly apply for the Assistant Professor position. This decision has generated mixed opinions among PhD students, existing faculty members, and UGC members. interviewed various stakeholders to gather their perspectives on this matter.



Ajeya Vajpayee, PhD candidate, Department of History, University of Delhi

The decision to replace the requirement of a PhD with UGC-NET/SLET/SET for the position of assistant professor is concerning as it may lead to a decline in the quality of faculty members. The extensive learning experience gained during the rigorous 5-6 years of the PhD program is valuable and cannot be easily replicated. Furthermore, the removal of the MPhil program, which plays a significant role in preparing students for the extensive work involved in their doctoral research, adds to the drawbacks of this decision. It is likely that universities will still prioritize PhD holders, especially for permanent positions, and this seems reasonable.

M M Ansari, former UGC Member

The recent guidelines regarding the appointment of teachers have created more confusion rather than providing clarity. One of the main challenges we face is improving the quality of education. When hiring assistant professors, it is crucial that candidates possess both academic competence and other necessary skills. It has been traditionally considered essential for them to have a PhD, indicating a strong research and academic background. Additionally, obtaining a PhD requires the publication of two research papers in reputable journals, which serves as evidence of the candidates’ ability to excel in their academic pursuits.

In my opinion, these revised guidelines have simply diluted the minimum requirements, potentially allowing individuals who may not otherwise meet the standards or those with certain ideological leanings to be appointed. This will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the quality of education.

Sudha Yadav, PhD candidate, Plasma Physics

The revised guidelines will undoubtedly be beneficial as they open up opportunities for a larger pool of candidates to apply for teaching roles. I believe that the quality of education will not be compromised because NET qualified candidates already possess substantial academic knowledge. It’s important to note that having a PhD and conducting research does not automatically guarantee exceptional teaching abilities. I am optimistic that with the inclusion of non-PhD candidates, there will be a positive shift in the teaching landscape.

Dr KS Kusuma, Associate Professor, AJK MCRC, JMI

The UGC’s decision to revoke the requirement of a PhD for assistant professors will not contribute to improving the rankings of universities and colleges to match those of institutions worldwide. It is crucial that anyone joining as an assistant professor possesses the ability to conduct research, teach effectively, and supervise students. While this change may be suitable for intermediate and undergraduate colleges, it may not be sufficient for universities.

Rishabh Pandey, PhD candidate in Psychology, IIT Kanpur

The recent decision to make a PhD degree non-compulsory for the position of assistant professor is disheartening for those who have dedicated five to seven years of their lives to obtain this qualification. This change is likely to have negative consequences, including a decline in research and innovation, as well as a demotivation for students who aspire to pursue research themselves. Additionally, it opens the door for less qualified candidates to become eligible for the role of assistant professor. It is important to recognize that an assistant professor without research experience will primarily impart theoretical knowledge, lacking the ability to mentor and inspire students towards research endeavors.

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