Concerned over the protests by students against the decision to scrap non-NET fellowships by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the human resource development (HRD) ministry has asked UGC not to go ahead with it.
The ministry has appointed a five-member panel to review the research grants offered by the UGC, which has been asked to continue with all existing grants.
But the students, protesting for the last eight days, termed the government’s notification an ‘eyewash’ and said they will continue with their agitation till the fellowship amount is not enhanced.
“In order to encourage and expand quality research in diverse fields, the central government has constituted a five-member review committee to go into the issues related to research fellowships provided by UGC. The panel will submit its report to the HRD ministry by December,” said an official notification.
“The central government has directed the UGC not to implement the decision to discontinue the non-NET fellowships and continue all existing fellowships,” it added.
The committee has also been asked to determine the feasibility of enhancing the coverage of NET fellowships that are merit-based, establish a transparent system of transfer of fellowship amounts every month to non-NET fellows, consider economic and non-economic criteria for eligibility for the fellowship, among others.
The UGC cited shortage of funds as the reason behind the inability to provide fellowships. Under this, financial assistance was provided to students, undertaking MPhil and PhD, of Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000 per month respectively. While the former got the assistance for 18 months, the latter got it for four years.