By Sanjiv Dube
NEW DELHI : On July 3 the Human Resource Development
Ministry (MHRD) officially announced the postponement of
the coveted Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and the
National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for
admission to undergraduate engineering and medical
They will now be held in September, the government said,
allaying fear of lakhs of students and parents.
"Keeping in mind the safety of students and to
ensure quality education we have decided to postpone
#JEE & #NEET examinations," Human Resource
Development Minister Ramesh Nishank Pokhriyal tweeted
on Friday evening, a PIB press release reported.
According to the new schedule, the JEE-Main will now
be held from September 1 to 6; JEE Advanced on Sept 27
and the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)
will be held on Sept 13, the press note said quoting the
The two exams
were first postponed on May 5. The NEET was earlier scheduled
for July 26, while the JEE-Mains was to
be held from July 18-23.
The JEE-Advanced, conducted for admission to Indian
Institutes of Technology (IITs), was earlier scheduled
for August 23.
The wide spread of pandemic Covid-19 had rendered
the JEE and NEET schedule redundant, leaving lakhs
of students and parents' to pass sleepless nights. On
July 1 the parents of about 4,000 NRI students based in
West Asia had filed a plea in the Supreme Court
demanding that NEET centres be set up in those countries
or the examination be postponed.
Around nine lakh aspirants have registered for the JEE
(Main), while 16 lakhs have registered for the
The Minister had on Thursday set up a panel to review
the situation. “Looking at the prevailing circumstances
and requests received from students and parents
appearing for JEE and NEET examinations, a committee
consisting of (National Testing Agency Director General Vineet Joshi) and other experts has been advised to
review the situation & submit its recommendations to HRD
Ministry latest by tomorrow," the press note said.
Both examinations are conducted by
the NTA constituted by the MHRD.
MHRD lowers PM Fellowship bar to widen GATE
NEW DELHI :
To boost research the Union Human
Resource Development Ministry (MHRD) has amended rules
of the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF)
Scheme so as to include more institutes/ universities in
According to a PIB press note released on May 7, the new relaxation will
not apply to IISc/ IITs/ NITs/ IISERs/ IIEST/ Centrally
The requirement of Graduate Aptitute Test for
Engineering (GATE) Score, according to Union Human
Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, is being
relaxed to 650 from 750 apart from minimum CGPA of 8 or
equivalent. Several academics felt that the move would
dilute the quality of the fellows.
Final-year students or holders of bachelor's or master's
degrees in science or technology can apply for the
fellowship if they have a cumulative grade point average
(CGPA) of 8 or above and a GATE score of 650 or above.
"Students with GATE scores of 650 now fail to secure
admission to M.Tech courses in computer science or
electrical engineering in the older IITs. Making them
eligible for the fellowship will compromise standards,"
said an IIT Kanpur professor who did not wish to be
Now there will be two channels of entries, one
direct entry and the other lateral entry. In the lateral
entry, the students pursuing Ph.D in PMRF granting
institutions (completed 12 months or 24 months as per
certain requirements) can also apply to become fellow
under the scheme. The NITs can also become PMRF Granting
institution. The modifications will enable more students
to avail of the benefit under the Prime Minister’s
Research Fellowship Scheme.
According to the minister a dedicated Division is
being created in the MHRD with the name of "Research and
Innovation Division" which will be headed by a director
who will coordinate research work of various
institutions coming under MHRD.
The Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship Scheme was
announced in the Budget 2018-19. The institutes which
can offer PMRF include the IITs, the IISERs, Indian
Institute of Science, Bengaluru and some of the top
Central Universities/NITs that offer science and/or
The minister said that the candidates will be
selected through a rigorous selection process and their
performance will be reviewed suitably through a national
convention. Starting Academic Year 2020-21, candidates
can apply for PMRF through either direct entry channel
or lateral entry channel.
To apply for PMRF through Direct Entry Channel the
candidate must satisfy the following criteria:
In the preceding three years, the candidate should have
either: (i) completed or be pursuing the final year of
Bachelors or Masters degree in Science and Technology
streams from any of the Institute/ University recognized
in India with CGPA of 8.0 or above and GATE score of 650
or above in the relevant subject (the GATE criteria is
waived if the qualifying degree is from one of the
Centrally funded technical institutes), or, (ii)
qualified GATE and completed or be pursuing M.Tech/ MS
by research at one of the PMRF Granting Institutes
having a minimum CGPA of 8.0 or above at the end of the
first semester with a minimum of four courses.
To apply for PMRF through the Lateral Entry channel,
the candidate must satisfy all of the following
The candidate should be pursuing Ph.D. in one of the
PMRF granting institutions. Further, he/ she should have
completed at most 12 months in the Ph.D programme if he/
she joined the programme with a Master’s degree; and
should have completed at most 24 months in the Ph.D
programme if he/ she joined the Ph.D programme with a
Bachelor’s degree. He/ she should have completed at
least four courses in the Ph.D programme with CGPA / CPI
of 8.5 or above.
The PMRF Granting Institute, in which the student is
enrolled, makes a strong recommendation for the
candidate and uploads the relevant information on the
PMRF web-portal, in view of his/ her merit clearly
demonstrated during the first 12-24 months (as relevant)
of the program;
The metrix on which the candidates will be judged
include (but not restricted to) a strong research
proposal, publications record and grades. Due weightage
should be given to publication in reputed
The five-year scheme provides for a fellowship of Rs
70,000 a month for the first two years, Rs 75,000 a
month for the third year, and Rs 80,000 a month for the
last two years. Besides, each researcher gets a research
grant of Rs 2 lakh a year. In comparison, the Junior
Research Fellowship provides for Rs 31,000 a month for
the first two years and Rs 35,000 a month for the next
Javadekar U-turn, says Jio not given
By Rajiv Shukla
NEW DELHI : On July 26 HRD minister Prakash
Javadekar played backfoot to duck blunt supplementary
questions on the proposed Jio Institute issue and
categorically said that that "Jio Institute has not been
declared an 'Institution of Eminence'."
He said that Jio has only been given "a letter of intent
on the recommendation of Empowered Expert Committee
(EEC)" and added that it has been given subject to
The reply was given by the minister while replying to a
starred question in Rajya Sabha during Question Hour.
Several members sought clarity on the criteria on the
basis of which the prestigious title was conferred on
The institutes which were chosen were Indian
Institute of Science, Bangalore, Indian Institute of
Technology, Delhi, and Indian Institute of Technology,
He said the Birla Institute of Technological Sciences,
Pilani, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal,
and Jio Institute were recommended for issuance of
letter of intent. He clarified that Rs. 1000 cr. grant
will be given only to public institutions and no funds
will be given to private institutions under Institute of
Explaining the policy he said that the University Grants
Commission (UGC) notified the UGC (Declaration of
Government Educational Institutions as Institutions of
Eminence) Guidelines, 2017 for public institutions and
UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities)
Regulations, 2017 for private institutions for setting
up / upgrading of 20 institutions (10 from public sector
& 10 from private sector) as world class teaching and
research institutions called ‘Institutions of Eminence’
(IoEs). The Regulations inter-alia provide for
Greenfield category as well.
Accordingly, applications were invited through UGC’s
notification dated 13th September, 2017 from existing
Government Institutions and existing Private Institution
along with from Sponsoring Organizations who want to set
up new Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be University.
He said 114 applications – 74 from public sector and 40
from private sector, including 11 applications in the
Greenfield projects were received.
These applications were entrusted to an Empowered Expert
Committee (EEC) constituted for this purpose. The EEC,
after thorough examination of applications and
presentations made by the institutions, made its
recommendations to UGC.
The Institutions were recommended and approved by the
EEC and the UGC based on their detailed fifteen year
strategic vision plan and a five year rolling
implementation plan viz. Academic Plan, Faculty
Recruitment Plan, Students Admission plan, Research
Plan, Networking Plan, Infrastructure development Plan,
Finance Plan, Administrative Plan, Governance Plan, etc.
with clear annual milestones and action plans on how the
Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities are
to be set up, with identifiable outputs and outcomes and
their plan to meet the criteria for attaining the status
of an Institution of Eminence, as mentioned in their
application and presentations made before the EEC.
PhD entry rule
Javadekar pleaded ignorance about a contentious
PhD/MPhil admission rule that was notified in 2016 with
the ministry's approval.
He pleaded ignorance when Rashtriya Janata Dal member
Manoj Jha questioned a UGC regulation that says all
general and quota candidates must score at least 50 per
cent marks in the written entrance test to qualify for
the oral interview.
Virtually all other major entrance tests - even
those governing admissions to the IITs and IIMs - relax
the qualifying marks for Dalit, tribal and OBC students.
"The issue the member has raised - if he shares details,
I will enquire and do justice," Javadekar said.
The UGC website says the regulation was "published
on 13-7-2016", which is eight days after Javadekar took
over charge of the ministry from Smriti Irani.
Another controversial clause in the regulation, not
raised by Jha is that it makes the viva voce the sole
determinant for admission, which critics say puts
candidates from the villages and weaker sections at a
MHRD raises 'replace UGC' bogey again
By Sanjiv Dube
NEW DELHI: On June 27, Human Resource Development
(HRD) Ministry once again raised the "replace UGC"
bogey -- almost at the fag-end of the BJP government's
term in office.
As if to show that it really means business, the
ministry hoasted a
draft of the proposed Higher Education
Commission of India (HECI) Act, 2018 (Repeal of
University Grants Commission Act, 1956) inviting suggestions
from state-holders at firstname.lastname@example.org by 5
pm on July 7, 2018.
The monsoon session of Parliament starts on July 18 and
the government has a backlog of 68 bills pending in Lok
Sabha and 40 in the Rajya Sabha. In fact Minister of
State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel met former
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently to seek
support for the legislative agenda. The 18-sitting
session will conclude on August 10.
Experts on legislative matters told this
correspondent that with important bills like the Muslim
Marriage (Protection of Marriage Rights) Bill, 2017;
Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017; Constitution
(123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017, and Prevention of
Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 lined up for passage
MHRD has little chance to squeeze in its agenda.
Besides, the monsoon session also needs to replace six
ordinances with Acts: Fugitive Economic Offenders
Ordinance; Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance;
Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial
Appellate Division of HCs (Amendment) Ordinance;
Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Ordinance;
National Sports University Ordinance; Insolvency and
Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance.
move to reform, or to replace, the higher education
regulator has been going on since Kapil Sibal days in
the Congress regime, that is for over five years.
Both the UPA and the NDA regimes have come up with their
own drafts to 'replace' UGC but the chemistry of the
Parliament gave them little leeway. Moreover Sibal's
successors -- M.M. Pallam Raju, Smriti Irani and Prakash
Javadekar -- have been political pygmies -- with little
capacity to move the Parliament.
The latest move came to light on June 27 when the
ministry announced a draft Act to replace the
UGC according to which the proposed Higher Education Commission of India
(HECI) will focus
solely on academic matters while monetary grants would be
decided and disbursed by the Ministry. It will be called the Higher Education Commission
of India (HECI) Act, 2018 (Repeal of University Grants
proposed Act would be given teeth to enforce academic standards, order the
closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions, even
The government was earlier planning a single regulator
to replace the regulators for technical education,
teacher training and the UGC. However, it has since
decided to strengthen the higher education regulator.
“The current commission remains preoccupied with
disbursing funds to institutes and is unable to
concentrate on other key areas such as mentoring
institutes, focusing on research to be undertaken and
other quality measures required in the sector,” said
Higher Education Secretary B. Subramanyam. The new commission will be tasked with
specifying learning outcomes for higher education
courses, and prescribe standards of teaching,
assessment, and research, according to the draft.
The UGC has been criticised in the past, especially for
what has been seen as its restrictive regime. The
Professor Yash Pal committee, in 2009, recommended an
education regulator to rid the higher education sector
of red tape.
The HECI will be a 14-member body having a chairman, a
vice-chairman, three central government secretaries, the
AICTE and teacher education council chairpersons, two
members from accreditation bodies, two serving
vice-chancellors, two professors and one doyen of
For the first time there will be an advisory council to
be chaired by the Union HRD minister.
A senior official of the MHRD said that UGC staff would
be retrained to adapt to the HECI regime, which will be
fully digital and would do away with file work.
Varsities to have dept-wise vacancy roster
NEW DELHI : The government has reportedly asked
the University Grants Commission (UGC) to make a
department-wise roster of teacher vacancies reserved for
scheduled caste and scheduled tribe candidates, instead
of the current norm of having an institution-wise table,
officials familiar with the matter said.
Giving details about the order by the Human Resource
Development Ministry (MHRD), officials who refused to be
named, said on March 1 that the move is based on a Allahabad
High Court judgment in
Vivekanand Tiwari and anr. Vs
Union Of India and 5 Ors delivered on April
In its order the Allahabad high court had
struck down a UGC circular prescribing institution-wise
reservation to fill vacant faculty positions and asked
the UGC to "examine all aspects referred to in judgments
of the Apex Court and submit its recommendations to the
Ministry of Human Resource Development for its
consideration and appropriate decision."
Petitioners Vivekanand Tiwari and others of Benaras
Hindu University (BHU) had applied for the post of
Assistant Professor in the Central university in their
respective disciplines. The petitioners noticed that the
reservation applied by the University was by way of
treating the University as a 'Unit' and the posts of the
Professor, Associate Professor, Reader and Assistant
Professor as single cadre at each level in the
According to the petitioners the reservation for the
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward
Classes ought to have been applied by treating the posts
of different levels in each subject/department as a
'Unit' and not the whole University as a 'Unit'. The
High Court upheld their contention and struck down a UGC
circular prescribing institution-wise reservation to
fill vacant faculty positions.
The judgement was subsequently challenged in the Supreme
Court before the Vacation Bench comprising Justices
R.K.Agrawal and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, on June 16, 2017
which issued notice returnable in four weeks.
The apex court bench upheld the high court order later,
prompting the UGC to send a proposal to the HRD
ministry stating that the number of reserved posts in
SC/ST and other backward class categories should be done
department-wise. The ministry asked the UGC to go ahead
with its proposal.
A university is treated as a single unit for
calculating the number of faculty from reserved
categories. For instance, during listing of all teaching
posts of the same grade and across departments are
clubbed together to decide the quota. But with the new
rule, each department in a varsity would be treated as a
Experts, however, called the move a retrograde step.
A former secretary in the central government, said if
there is a single vacancy, it will preclude the
possibility of quota.
“It is because of this problem the government had
come with a formula of bunching together similar posts
with similar pay scales, qualifications, and so
reservation became possible. Usually in a department
there would be a single vacancy and reservation would
not be possible on a single position,” he said.
He pointed out that the move will reduce the number
of posts for SC/ST and socially and educationally
backward classes significantly. “They are poorly
represented everywhere already … So in an educational
system their presence is the lowest at the university
level,” he said.
Government data shows there are 16,600 sanctioned posts
for teachers in central universities in India. Of these,
5,928 posts are vacant.
NET need relaxed to fill up vacant lecturers'
From Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI : The government has relaxed the mandatory
National Eligibility Test (NET) in order to fill up
faculty vacancies in degree colleges and universities.
Now those who completed a Ph.D or registered for one
before 2009 would be eligible for lectureship without
clearing the NET.
The HRD minister Smriti Irani announced on April 12 2016 that
the move will help create a larger talent pool for
teaching jobs. Women researchers will get more time to
complete their research — an additional year for MPhil
and two more for PhD — along with maternity leave
benefits, she said.
At present, a student who has a postgraduate degree or
an MPhil and has cleared the NET/ SET (state-level
eligibility test) is eligible for lectureship in a
college or university. If the student fails to clear the
eligibility test but has an M.Phil degree, he or she can
teach in a college, but not a university.
If a student does a Ph.D in accordance with University
Grants Commission regulations, such as publication of
research papers and presentations in
seminars/conferences, he or she is eligible for the post
of assistant professor in any college or university.
In 2009, the UGC made NET and a PhD the minimum
eligibility criteria for the post of assistant professor
in colleges and universities.
On April 12, the ministry gave the go-ahead to the
commission to exempt such students from NET/SET for
teaching jobs in universities and other educational
However, students will have to fulfil a number of
conditions, including that the PhD is offered in regular
mode and researchers have published papers as part of
The ministry and the UGC did not have a specific figure
on the number of beneficiaries but officials said the
decision would benefit hundreds of thousands of aspiring
teachers who were so far ineligible as they could not
clear the NET or SET.
“There has been a long-standing challenge faced by
researchers/aspiring teachers. The UGC today in
conjunction with the government has taken this
decision,” Irani said.
UGC chairman Ved Prakash said the move would create a
greater pool of eligible candidates for recruitment as
assistant professors. It would also address the shortage
of faculty in educational institutions, he said.
Irani said female students would be given maternity
leave of 240 days that would be excluded from the
duration of their research. They would also be given
eight years compared to the existing six for completing
their Ph.D and three years to complete their M.Phil
instead of two. The same benefits will be provided to
people with disability.
Also, in case of relocation of a female MPhil/PhD
scholar due to marriage or other reasons, research data
will be allowed to be transferred to the university to
which the scholar intends to relocate provided other
conditions are met.
Granting more freedom to autonomous institutions and to
incentivise quality education, the UGC and the ministry
have done away with mandatory inspection of such
institutes, nor will they require a no-objection
certificate from the state. An autonomous college has
academic autonomy to design its curriculum, prescribe
syllabi and evolve its own pedagogy.
“They will only have to provide an NOC from the
affiliated university and if they are accredited with
the highest grade for two consecutive cycles, they would
be granted autonomous status,” Irani said.
Cap on college affiliation, govt says 200
By Sanjiv Dube
NEW DELHI : The Ministry of Human Resource
Development (MHRD) has, in its effort to provide quality
higher education, asked the states to put a cap on the
number of affiliated colleges, a ministry official said
on August 17, 2014.
The ministry has sent a number of suggestions to the
states to improve academic and administrative excellence
in the university system, including fixing an upper
limit on the number of colleges that state university
ought to affiliate. The MHRD feels 200 is more than
enough and has directed the state higher education
departments to ensure that the state universities do not
affiliate more than 200 colleges falling within their
According to the All India Survey on Higher Education
2010-11 conducted by the MHRD the national average for
college affiliation per university stands at 300.
Individually, Osmania University has the maximum number
of affiliated colleges -- 901 --
while 811 colleges are affiliated to the University of Pune. Rashtrusant Tukadoji Maharaj University, Nagpur has 800
colleges with it and Rajasthan University, Jaipur has
735 colleges while Mumbai
University has 711 colleges attached to them. While
capping affiliations, States will be asked to create
more universities instead.
For Central funding, the States will now have to develop a
comprehensive higher education plan that utilises an
inter-connected strategy to address issues of expansion,
equity and excellence
together. The plan needs to include projected analytical
growth -- number of degrees to be awarded in the next
decade, staff recruitment and research enhancement,
The Ministry will unveil
an ambitious Rs 1 lakh crore Central funding scheme to
administrative and financial reforms of higher education
within States and UTs as part of the Centre’s Rashtriya
Uchattar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA).
RUSA is a flagship scheme aimed at providing strategic
funding to States’ higher and technical institutions.
When implemented, it will lead to setting up and upgrade
of colleges and
universities, facilitating higher education for more
students. Other institutions like IITs and NITs are also
granted permission to autonomously award degrees.
Tamil Nadu has the maximum number of 55 public
universities and 29 deemed universities. Andhra Pradesh
has the most State universities (32) and Rajasthan, the
maximum number of
private ones, at 25.
Delhi and Uttar Pradesh have four Central universities
each, the most among all States and Union Territories.
While the oldest established university is that of
Mumbai (1857), the first
institute to be granted deemed university status was the
Indian Institute of Science (IIS) in May 1958.