Thousands of aspiring teachers who registered for their PhD programmes before June 11, 2009, need not take the National Eligibility Test (NET), the University Grants Commission has decided, relaxing tough new norms introduced last year.
Students holding PhDs from foreign universities of repute will also be exempt from taking the NET in order to teach, the UGC has decided. The relaxations in norms come as relief for aspiring teachers as well as for universities across India struggling with massive faculty shortages.
Taken at a recent meeting of the commission, the UGC decision to relax its norms is based on recommendations of a panel it set up in August this year to examine concerns raised by various stakeholders including candidates and universities.
"The relaxation is a potential life-saver for Indian universities, which were already struggling. We have been requesting for this relaxation for some time but our pleas have till now been ignored," the vice-chancellor of a Delhi-based central university said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The commission came out with tougher entry norms for teachers in higher education, along with regulations for stricter standards in PhD programmes, following concerns over the quality of PhD scholars and their research in several universities.
The regulations, aimed at improving the quality of the teachers in the country's colleges and universities, however also instantly shrank an already inadequate pool of qualified teachers. Most Indian central universities have vacancies in faculty posts ranging between 20% and 50%.
State universities suffer from an even greater shortage in faculty.
One of the major concerns over the new UGC norms on PhD standards was over candidates who obtained their doctoral degrees abroad at institutions which, though renowned, may not be in strict compliance with the UGC norms.
Under the relaxation, a UGC panel of experts will scrutinise applicants of PhD holders from abroad, instead of these candidates needing to take the NET.