NEW DELHI: The University Grants Commission plans to soon suggest core areas and subjects on which research by doctoral students will be encouraged in varsities.
India’s university education regulator is in the process of beginning consultations with subject experts in various disciplines after which a list of major thrust areas will be developed in various subjects.
“There have been concerns that research work being carried out in our universities is not of very high quality, repetitive and socially relevant,” said UGC chairman D P Singh.
“We want all the research work to be very focused and socially, locally or nationally relevant. For example, universities in tribal-dominated areas should come up with work that helps in tribal upliftment and lens relevant information and data for the government to frame policies,” Singh added.
“Similarly universities in places where Ganges, for instance, flows through—research works by students can explore subjects that include water pollution and ways to deal with it."
Though the list of focus areas sent to central and state universities will be “advisory” in nature, the Commission will push varsities to adopt them from “utilitarian” point of view.
Singh conceded that much of the research work happening in the country, at present is repetitive and not “very useful.”
According to the Human Resources Development ministry data, there were 1,23,712 students enrolled in PhD programmes in the country in 2016-17. The data also says that maximum PhDs are enrolled in state public universities, followed by institutions of national importance.
While 41, 566 students enrolled in the state public universities for 2016-17 academic session, 26,012 of them had enrolled in institutions of national importance. A total of 17,715 students had registered for PhD in central universities in the year where as 16,595 of them enrolled in private universities.
Those who keep a watch on the higher education sector said that the UGC proposal looks a good-intentioned one.
“It’s a reality that higher education institutions in India become PhD factories,” said a Delhi University professor who did not want to be named. “By admitting candidates who do not have the appropriate attitude or knowledge to undertake PhD-level study, without monitoring their progress and awarding them the degree, some universities have actually the quality of these degrees”.