Research leeway for economically weaker sections
The University Grants Commission on Monday announced a relaxation in the master’s marks criterion for students from the economically weaker sections seeking admission in PhD courses, on a day the Supreme Court upheld the EWS quota.
The amended UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedures for Award of PhD Degree) Regulations lowers the master’s marks eligibility criterion from 55 per cent to 50 per cent for the economically weaker sections.
The previous regulations notified in 2016 offered this concession to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and disabled students.
The cut-off for general category students will remain 55 per cent.
The EWS candidates had not been receiving the relaxation even after Parliament passed a constitutional amendment in January 2019 to provide for 10 per cent reservation in jobs and admissions in central institutions to this category.
Several MPs have been demanding relaxation in marks and age criteria for EWS candidates in education and competitive exams. The government has been dithering on the demand.
EWS candidates do not get any relaxation in Union Public Service Commission exams and other competitive tests.
The UGC relaxation is a pointer to the government’s intent to treat the socially oppressed castes — SCs, STs and OBCs — on a par with the dominant oppressor castes, many felt. Justice Vangala Eswaraiah, former acting chief justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court and the main petitioner against the EWS quota in the Supreme Court, said the judgment would open the floodgates for relaxations given to SCs, STs and OBCs to be extended to the EWS category.
“The forward castes have succeeded in depicting that they are the poorest and they deserve reservation benefits. So we wish to see them work in manholes and drains and do all kinds of works that are traditionally done by the backward caste people,” Eswaraiah said, dripping sarcasm.
“Now that the Supreme Court has approved it, all the facilities associated with reservation will be given to them. They will get relaxation in age, qualification and fee for appearing in competitive exams and entrance tests,” he added.
The new regulations will also allow PhD in the part-time mode to help in-service persons pursue research.
The higher educational institution will have to obtain a no-objection certificate (NoC) from the organisation where the candidate is employed.
The employer will have to state that the candidate’s official duties permit them to devote sufficient time for research and if required, they will be relieved from duty to complete the course work.
The syllabus of the entrance test that institutions conduct to take in research students will be equally divided into research methodology and subject-specific content.
The new regulations have waived the need for publication and presentation of papers.