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Dramatic increase in NET qualifiers, suggesting rising interest in teaching

After years of faculty crunch woes across India’s universities, an 80% increase in the number of teachers qualified to enter India’s higher education system may signal a trend reversal, the government and UGC are hoping. Charu Sudan Kasturi reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 14, 2011 21:32 IST
Charu Sudan Kasturi
Charu Sudan Kasturi
Hindustan Times

The country’s apex test for selecting university teachers has thrown up an almost 80% increase in qualifiers from 2010 in a dramatic hike suggesting that teaching may slowly once again be regaining its attraction as a profession.

A total of 12,927 candidates have qualified in National Eligibility Test (NET) results declared on Monday, up from 7,233 in 2010, offering a ray of hope to a higher education structure creaking with massive faculty shortages. "A big take away from the results for us is the indication that an increasing number of students are interested in the teaching profession," UGC acting chairman professor Ved Prakash told HT.

Out of the 12,927 selected candidates, 3238 have qualified for the prestigious junior research fellowship (JRF). The results also show that scheduled caste (SC), scheduled tribe (ST) and other backward classes (OBC) candidates have performed secured more qualifications than the statutory quota requirements. OBC qualifiers constitute 33.06% of the selected candidates as against their 27% reservation, while SC/ST candidates form 33.26% of the qualifiers. Girls have outperformed boys in the general and OBC categories.

But policy makers at the UGC and at the human resource development ministry are most excited about the sharp increase in the number of teacher qualifiers. A higher success rate – 5.68% candidates qualified in 2011 compared to 3.81% in 2010 – coupled with a near 20% increase in the number of candidates who appeared have swollen the number of successful candidates.

The UGC also decided to end its policy of negative marking in the NET - and this was the first time the new policy was experimented. The change was introduced based on research that showed that negative marking often proves counter-productive in high stakes examinations like the NET.

Most Indian universities – including the most prestigious ones like Delhi University or Jawaharlal Nehru University – have large teaching vacancies, sometimes as high as 40-50%. But dwindling interest among bright youth to take up teaching as a profession has posed a key challenge to the government in recent years as it tries to fill these vacancies.

An unprecedented hike in pay following the Sixth Pay Commission two years back, many argue, has played a key role in making the teaching profession attractive once again.

First Published: Jun 14, 2011 21:28 IST