Restore biannual NET exam! Remove the restrictive 6% cap for NET qualification!
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Subject: Restore biannual NET exam and remove the restrictive 6% cap for NET qualification.
We have, over generations of students, known how crucial the biannual UGC NET exam is for the academic calendar of the country. Each year lakhs of students, from all over, work hard to prepare and sit for the NET as it is a decisive threshold in determining the eligibility for teaching position of Assistant Professor in Indian universities and colleges and also for obtaining JRF for pursuing higher research. But now, there seems to be a break in the practice of conducting NET twice in a year. CBSE had earlier expressed its unwillingness to conduct the NET exam twice a year as has been so far. After a protest from the student community, the UGC released a press statement saying that the CBSE has been asked to conduct NET exam in July 2017. But to our utter shock, we’ve now come to know that the notification published by CBSE dated 6th June declares that NET exam will be held on 19th November 2017. It is extremely unfortunate that the UGC after releasing press statements has withdrawn from accountability. The entire student community and lakhs of future aspirants have been terribly let down.
In this context, we have also been informed of the alarming move by the UGC to reduce the number of students who will qualify the NET exam. It has been reported in news papers that the UGC has decided to reduce the cap of students qualifying for NET to 6%. Till the NET exam conducted in January, 2017, top 15% of the eligible students were issued NET qualification.
Qualifying NET exam merely confers eligibility to apply for the post for Assistant Professor. And those who qualify the JRF as well become eligible for Junior Research Fellowships (JRFs) only if they manage to get admitted to any UGC recognized research programme in universities/institutions. In other words, NET and the JRF do not automatically guarantee either appointment in teaching posts or receiving fellowship. NET-JRF is merely a qualifying examination and the candidates have to go through further examination/interviews at respective institutions/universities to get appointment as faculty or admitted as research students. Thus, there is no explanation or accountability of this arbitrary trimming down. On the contrary, the move will gravely scuttle the opportunities of the students trying for teaching profession or aspiring to pursue higher research.
• Firstly, this restrictive 6% cap will deny thousands of students the opportunity of even applying for the post of Assistant Professor.
• Secondly, it appears that the dual move of scuttling biannual exam and the 6% cap are being implemented in a clandestine way to cut down the number of Junior Research Fellowships. With much less number of students qualifying for NET every year, the number of Junior Research Fellowship will also decrease. It is becoming clear that all these moves are nothing but yet another move to impose fellowship-cut in higher education in a surreptitious manner.
We have seen how the UGC have earlier tried to cut down Non-NET fellowships in 2015 and then imposed the restrictive cap of student-supervisor ratio through the 5 May 2016 UGC notification to restrict admission to post graduate research.
• Thirdly, with the 2nd June 2017 UGC notification that proposes to make NET qualification a mandatory criterion for enrolment in PhD in category-3 universities (a major chunk of the colleges/ universities in our country come under this category), this 6% cap and scuttling of biannual exam are bound to further shrink the scope of research for hundreds of students.
• Fourthly, it is not even clear to the student community as to how the reservation policy and the provision for relaxation in eligibility for SC/ST, OBC and PH/VH students would be applicable with this restriction of 6%.
1. Immediate restoration of the Biannual Cycle of UGC NET exam – it must be ensured that the NET exam is held twice a year as per the existing norm. Since the current notification for the next NET exam has been declared for November 17th, the schedule for the July exam must be declared without any further ambiguous declarations and statements.
2. The UGC must come out with a clear official notification published in its website and in mass media on confirmation of the biannual NET as enough tricks have been played to shirk responsibility of conducting the exam as per norms.
3. The UGC must also guarantee that the number of Junior Research Fellowships (JRFs) will not be reduced. A clearly stated notification issued by the UGC must come in this regard as well.
4. Revoke the restrictive 6% cap for qualification of the UGC NET. Expand rather than reduce the scope and opportunity extended to the number of students trying for teaching profession or aspiring to pursue higher research.
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