Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mumbai University allows PhD guides to conduct entrance exams

MUMBAI: In a decision that will bring cheer to some and raise eyebrows of many others, the Mumbai University has empowered its PhD guides to conduct entrance tests for each candidate registered under them. This is a "special" arrangement for close to 600 students who registered for their doctoral studies when the university was dragging its feet over the mandatory regulations of the University Grants Commission.

In June 2009, the UGC drew up norms that universities across the country would have to follow for registering research fellows: step one was to conduct an entrance test to select students. The idea was to enhance the quality of PhD research in India. But the MU only recently finalized the process for selecting candidates and held an entrance test for those who registered after February.

In the intervening period, the varsity registered close to 600 PhD fellows on the basis of the old guidelines, who did not take any entrance test. "Now, the academic council has decided that not only will the respective guides take the exam, but even the six-month classroom course on research methodology will be conducted by the respective guides. This is a special decision," said BCUD director Rajpal Hande.

This will cheer many candidates who said they had completed a lot of leg-work in their research topic. The list of registered candidates has some prominent names: higher and technical education minister Rajesh Tope has registered under the university's commerce head Vivek Deolankar for his research in management, NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad registered in July 2009 for doctoral work in history and Shiv Sena's Anil Parab, who enrolled in December 2009. Though Tope confirmed that he had registered for the PhD before November 2010, he may not pursue it immediately. "I am busy with the session and other ministry-related work. I will attempt the test when I have the time," Tope said. On the university's decision on allowing the guides to conduct the test, he said the academic council is responsible for making all university related decisions in the best interest of students. "They might have decided some means to retain the quality of the test," added Tope.

Another registered candidate, Deepanshu Pusalkar, said the decision came as a relief to most registered candidates. "As we have completed 70% of our PhD work, it would not have been fair for us to attempt a test at this juncture. There will not be any fear if our guides would conduct the test."

UGC fumes at MU's "special arrangement"

"This is not acceptable with the UGC guidelines of 2009, which warrants that the university must conduct an entrance exam, followed by face-to-face interviews and course work for one or two semesters. This special arrangement is not what we meant while drawing up the guidelines. Such a special arrangement is not provided for in our guidelines," said Ved Prakash, UGC chairman.

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