UGCs proposal to permit part time PhDs what is it and how does it work

UGC’s Proposal to Permit Part-Time PhDs: What is it and How does it Work?

The University Grants Commission is finalizing the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of Ph.D. Degree) Regulations draft that it proposed in March this year. With the amendments, working professionals will be able to pursue part-time PhDs programmes. Part-time PhD programmes aren’t entirely new to India and are common in the IITs.

With the UGC’s proposal, more higher educational institutions across the country will offer the programme, which will help professionals who cannot afford to take long leaves to pursue their research.

We explain the eligibility criteria, the requirements for the supervisors and its other provisions:

What will be the eligibility criteria for enrollment?

The eligibility conditions are the same for both full-time and part-time candidates. The work will also be assessed in the same way as done for the full-time PhD students. In addition to meeting the regular criteria, however, the part-time PhD candidates will also have to produce a No-Objection Certificate or NOC from their employer.

“Such part-time PhD programmes are very useful to professionals who cannot take long leave for doing PhD,” UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar told The Indian Express.

What are the specifications of the NOC?

Apart from stating that the prospective part-time PhD candidate and employee is permitted to pursue the programme on a part-time basis, the NOC will have to spell out that they will be given sufficient time for research work.

The workplace will be required to establish facilities in the employee’s field of research as a doctoral scholar and the organisation will also have to make a submission saying that the employee will be relieved from duty to complete the requisite coursework if required.

Offices rarely offer facilities for research and there is a requirement for “facilities in the employee’s field of research at the place of work”. Isn’t the policy too restrictive?

Prof Kumar said that the proposed part-time PhD policy – with NoCs that are required to be submitted by part-time PhD applicants – is in tune with the best institutions in India such as IITs.

“Most industries involved in manufacturing, scientific research or the IT sector do have some facilities for research such as prototyping, testing and measurement. Such applicants can use the facilities in their place of work and also in the University where they register for part-time PhD.”

He added: “In IITs, students usually work during weekends to use the facilities at the institutions. A similar thing can be done in Universities. Students can also access library e-resources and online computing facilities using secure VPN connection from outside the campus, depending on the IT usage policy of the University.”

Who will guide the part-time PhD candidates?

The part-time PhD student will largely work independently but will work on his or her subject in consultation with the supervisor. At least six months of course work will have to be attended by them full-time. Once they complete the course work, they can carry out research under the guidance of a supervisor using the research facilities either in their own organisations or the research facilities in the universities.

Who will the supervisors be?

Permanent faculty members with a PhD working as Professor/Associate Professors, with at least five research publications in peer-reviewed or refereed journals may be recognized as research supervisors.

Permanent faculty members working as Assistant professors with a PhD degree and at least three research publications in peer-reviewed or referred journals can also be supervisors under the proposed norms.

Which institutions can offer part-time PhD programmes?

The PhD regulations shall apply to every University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, a Provincial Act, or a State Act, as well as every college and higher educational institution declared by a notification in the Official Gazette by the Central Government under Section 3 of UGC Act, 1956.

How will the quality of the part-time programme be ensured by the UGC?

Citing the example of the IITs, where part-time PhDs are common, Kumar says that “they have not seen any degradation in the quality of doctoral work”.

Kumar added that every semester, the part-time PhD candidates would be “required to make presentations and submit progress reports” to the research advisory committee, which is “mandated to make sure that the PhD students carry out research of high standards”.

Can people who have completed an M Phil in the past and are currently employed as working professionals also apply for the programme?

Under the proposed revised regulations, one can join PhD programmes either after a four year UG programme or after a two year Master’s degree. The M Phil programme is being phased out from the 2022-23 academic session. However, if one has an M.Phil degree, the research advisory committee may recommend only 12 credits of course work and not more.

“Their research experience during M.Phil would be helpful just as in the case of the four-year UG honours with research who gain some research experience. In fact, many from scientific research organisations may have some kind of research experience already. That would certainly help them in their part-time PhD programme. Such applicants would also bring a diversity in research problems being studied in the university system,” Prof Kumar said.

Can a techie working with an IT firm apply for a part-time PhD?

Anyone can apply as long as they are regular full time employees, their workplace or organisation is recognised by the concerned University, the applicant submits the required NOC, and fulfils the eligibility criteria for PhD admissions.

Courtesy : The Indian Express

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