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PhD enrolment drops for the first time in five years in Maharashtra

7,528 students enrolled in PhD programmes across universities and colleges of the state in 2016-17 against 9,229 in 2015-16

mumbai Updated: Jan 08, 2018 16:59 IST
Musab Qazi
Musab Qazi
Young scientist studying new substance or virus in microscope(Representational photo/iStockphoto)

Maharashtra saw an 18% drop in the number of students pursuing PhD in the last one year, even as enrolment increased nationally by 12%, revealed the Central government’s All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2016-17.

As per the survey, 7,528 students were enrolled in PhD programmes across universities and colleges of the state in 2016-17. The state had 9,229 students pursuing doctorates in 2015-16. This is the first time in the past five years that the PhD enrolment in the state, which witnessed an upward swing between 2012 and 2016, has dipped.

In 2016-17, the overall enrolment in higher education in Maharashtra was 40.16 lakh — a 0.7% increase from 39.87 lakh enrolments in 2015-16. The number of male students, however, dipped from 22.48 lakh to 22.40 lakh, while the number of female students increased from 17.39 lakh to 17.77 lakh.

In comparison, the national higher education enrolment increased by 3.2% — from 3.46 crore in 2015-16 to 3.57 crore in 2016-17. While the state gender parity index (GPI), which measures the relative access to education of male and female, rose from 0.86 to 0.88, it still less than the national GPI of 0.94.

In Maharashtra, the gross enrolment ratio (GER), which denotes the proportion of population between age 18 and 23, enrolled in higher education increased from 29.9 to 30.2 in the last one year. The national GER also increased from 24.5 to 25.2.

While a few state officials suggested the data in the survey could be incomplete, the academicians blamed the disparity between PhD applicants and availability of guides in the state universities for the enrolment slump.

“In my term alone, 30 professors retired from Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) and its affiliated institutes. These professors cannot be replaced because the state has stopped recruitment in higher education,” said Nitin Karmalkar, vice-chancellor, SPPU.

According to SS Mantha, former chairperson of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the universities in the state are slow in appointing new PhD guides.

“Unlike many other universities, Maharashtra varsities require teachers to submit an application to become a guide. The irregular meetings of research recognition committees (RRC) and internal politics prevent many from becoming a guide,” he added.

For the last two years, public universities in the state have been functioning without full-fledged governing bodies, including RRC. This is because, the state government, which was in the process of introducing Maharashtra Public Universities Act, put an embargo on the elections for these bodies. Mantha also suggested that it may have also contributed to the dip in enrolment.

To bring financial stability to the state by curbing the expenditure on the government employees, the state in 2015 put a freeze on creating new posts and filling vacant posts. Another government resolution, issued in May last year, announced that the freeze will continue for respective departments until they take a stock of their existing posts and finalise a new administrative framework for the department.

First Published: Jan 08, 2018 16:59 IST