KASARGOD: Central University of Kerala Vice-Chancellor G Gopa Kumar has issued a circular directing faculty members to build a bank of PhD topics “in accordance with national priorities” for allocation to new scholars. However, the March 13 circular has left several teachers scratching their heads as it does not define “national priorities.”
In the circular, Kumar has directed heads of departments to convene a meeting of faculty members and “prepare a shelf of projects to be taken up for research study pertaining to their respective subjects, considering national priorities”. PhD scholars can opt from the shelf of projects, the circular says. It also asks faculty members to discourage research into “irrelevant areas” and end the practice of allotting “privilege topics” to PhD students. Here, too, the circular does not define “irrelevance” or “privilege.”
“The circular is absurd on several levels. Most importantly, it has been issued without the Academic Council first discussing it,” said a faculty member. The Academic Council is the varsity’s highest decision-making body, responsible for the maintaining standards of instruction, education and examination. It also has the right to advise the Executive Council on all academic matters.
Kumar said the circular will be placed before the Academic Council in its next meeting. It was, however, issued following a meeting of VCs held at the Ministry of Human Resource Development on December 12, 2018. “The circular has been issued to improve quality of research in the university and avoid oft-repeated topics. Nothing more should be read into it,” Kumar said.
On which topics would be considered “national priorities”, he said, “The nation’s priority means its economy, technology, food security, social issues. A 25-year-old student will not know what the country needs. So it is better to give him/her ideas.”. Faculty members said there could be oft-repeated theme in any of the said topics.
“There is a doctoral research committee comprising subject experts to decide the relevance and priority of the topics. Research cannot be done based on bureaucratic orders,” said a teacher.
Another faculty member said it was a fact students took up meaningless topics for research which did not produce knowledge.