Worried over reports of falling standards in higher education, the government is all set to make it compulsory for teachers to pass the National Eligibility Test (NET) for jobs in higher education institutions like state and central universities.
The test was a mandatory condition before it was relaxed in 2006. The new rule is unlikely to affect teachers appointed in higher education institutions in the interim period.
A committee headed by Planning Commission member B.N. Mungerkar has asked the government to reinforce NET as the national screening criterion for all appointments of lecturers.
In June 2006, the University Grants Commission had exempted Ph.D and M.Phil degree holders from the test on the basis of interim recommendations of the Mungerkar panel report.
The Mungerkar panel has now reversed its interim recommendations after consultations with academicians across the country.
The panel now says that the screening test is necessary to maintain high standard in teaching in higher education.
The committee feels that relaxing NET can jeopardize quality of education and the better way to attract good teachers for higher education was through better remuneration and incentives.
Academicians had protested the UGC's decision to implement the interim recommendations, saying that the country does not have a mechanism to ensure authenticity of PhD and MPhil degrees. But UGC had said that the NET condition was being relaxed to facilitate universities to fill up huge vacancies. Of the total 9,261 teaching posts in 24 central universities, about 21 per cent are vacant. In state universities, about 15 per cent posts are vacant.
According to UGC sources, the commission has in principle agreed with the committee's final recommendation.
UGC's member secretary RK Chauhan refused to comment on the contents of the report but said that the commission would consider Mungekar panel recommendations at its next meeting in June.