Sep 13, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

India’s University Grants Commission (UGC) has amended regulations to the qualifying criteria for admission to M.Phil and PhD programs for designated applicants. Here’s a closer look at the changes, as recently reported by the Hindustan Times.

Lowered Eligibility Requirements

The UGC plans to lower the eligibility cutoff for M.Phil and PhD applicants meeting certain “reserved criteria.” Until recently, all students have needed qualifying marks of 50 percent on entrance tests. Under the amended regulations, applicants from officially designated groups of historically disadvantaged people will need qualifying marks of 45 percent instead.

Furthermore, if a university cannot fill the seats allotted for these applicant categories, it will be charged with launching a “Special Admission Drive” using their own criteria toward the goal of ensuring that as many vacancies as possible are filled.

Union HRD ministry secretary of higher education, R. Subrahmanyam, said, “Whereas we are determined to improve the quality of doctoral education, we must ensure that the constitutional safeguards for [designated candidates] are not violated. Therefore, the minister for HRD Prakash Javadekar approved an amendment in the PhD regulation that provides for a special admission process for [reserved criteria] vacancies. This we hope will go a long way [to ]improving the current situation.”

A Response to Demand

Udit Raj, BJP MP, said, “We have been demanding this for a while. Earlier, some universities had reduced the seats for M.Phil and PhD too and that had a huge impact on the community. They rely the most on government universities as private ones are very expensive. This move reflects that the government is proactive in the interest of the [reserved criteria] community and is committed to their welfare.”

Others suggest that the move should have come sooner. According to one economics professor, “[The government] can’t compensate for the loss of the students who have missed out on higher studies. Already the number of students from the deprived sections who are able to go for higher studies is quite low. It will definitely have a good impact next year but there has to be some consistency in the way policies are formed.”

Indian universities are also endeavoring to attract more international students. Learn more here

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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