UGC lifts ban on Distance PhDs, MPhil courses

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has lifted the two -year-old ban on distance MPhil and PhD courses. The move comes after widespread protests by various universities. Many Open Learning Universities like IGNOU were protesting the ban on the ground that their respective laws, passed by Parliament or legislatures, allowed them to offer such courses.

UGC held a meeting on the issue last month, deciding to lift the ban. “An open university may be permitted to conduct MPhil/PhD programmes through distant education mode subject to condition that it does so strictly as per the provisions of the UGC Regulations,” said the minutes of the meeting.

Speaking on the development, IGNOU vice-chancellor Rajasekharan Pillai said, “We will follow the rules but our regulations are already stricter than those of the UGC.” 

Although, UGC has lifted the ban but it has put another condition for Phd — the principal guide should be from the open university. The UGC had clamped the bar by notifying a rule — the Minimum Standards and Procedure for Awards of MPhil/PhD Degree Regulation — in 2009 saying research courses in the distant mode were of poor quality. 

The regulations had put a question mark on the future of nearly 10,000 students pursuing such courses across the country.“There should not be any blanket ban on MPhil or PhD in distance mode. If institutions meet the required quality parameters, they should be allowed to offer such courses,” said academic M. Madhava Menon, who has been asked by the HRD ministry to draft a policy on distance education. He said he would submit his report next month.

Inadequate infrastructure of many open universities is also a concern for carrying out research work.

A UGC official said the commission’s regulations were silent on the facilities, and a panel headed by academic S.P. Thyagrajan had been set up to suggest the requirements. “We will meet on September 15 to lay the guidelines,” Thyagrajan said.

[Source: The Telegraph]


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186 thoughts on “UGC lifts ban on Distance PhDs, MPhil courses”

  1. As a professional academician I personally & professionally don’t support this move of UGC & HRD………..It will just open another gateway to buy Higher Degrees! Can a PhD in Branches of Medical Sciences is possible by Distance Learning Mode? Can it be possible for anyone to undergo MPhils/PhDs in Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Botany, Zoology, etc without attending formal classes & practicals? I think its not even possible for Students of Humanities & Arts branches to do MPhils/PhDs without formal classes/seminars/presentations/projects, etc. There are lots of examples how many Colleges & Universities are conducting/running their higher studies! I believe that it will have a great negative effect on our educational system in long run! It will surely degrade the quality of higher education in India!

  2. I just got the news that UGC has removed its two years ban on Ph.D. and M.Phil. in distance mood. Its a good decision for the greater interest of many research scholars, but at the same time quality should not be compromised in any means. IGNOU status is different from other open universities. Definitely IGNOU maintains its standard in research, but what about other open universities. Most of the state open universities are running with rapid scarcity of faculties, they are trying to get the supervisors from other institutes for guiding the Ph.D. scholars. My concern is, if ban is removed, a stricter regulation should come with immediate force and the principal supervisor should from the institute itself. Coursework, seminar, and progress report should be made compulsory. In every phase of Ph.D. work the scholars should publish five research papers related with his Ph.D. work in international and national journals which is peer reviewed, indexed and abstracting, with impact factor. Out of which a couple of papers should be from overseas countries. Before final submission of thesis, one open viva should be conducted to know the authenticity and worth of his work. The report of publish paper should be attached with the thesis in final publication. Its my views regarding the issue.
    Dr. Niradhar Dey

  3. The quality of publications already going down form Universities only , How can the Ph.D /MPhils obtained from distance mode can expect to publish in good journals.The idea of distance learning mooted out for dropouts and those who are in service for pursuing the higher education.I have valued many answer papers from Universities offering biotechnology course in M.Sc with all similar answers.These students only again apply for Ph.Ds and M.Phils without doing any course work and many guide find difficult in guiding them as they don’t have the knowledge of modern techniques.
    Hence I personally request you kindly stop giving such education as students are always inocents and prevent spoiling their future.

  4. In andhra Pradesh, some universities like dravidian university and rayalaseema university have started Ph.D., shops like belt shops. If UGC lifted ban on Doctoral courses, the higher education system would be collapsed heavily. UGC must direct the university to admit Ph.D., students systematically. This is unfair decision from UGC and we are all opposing the decision

  5. Response from Dravidian University to Mr. Pavan’s allegation
    On what bases you can argue that Dravidian University “have started Ph.D., shops like belt shops”?
    Is there any solid evidence for this argument?
    Making argument without evidence against an institution has more than one decades of history of higher education is not a healthy practice in this forum.
    P. Sreekumar, Asst. Professor
    Dravidian University

  6. I Welcome UGC decision to remove its two years ban on Ph.D. and M.Phil. in distance mode. I appreciate the comments given by Dr. Niradhar Dey and Dr.T.K.RAJA. As a MLIS student of IGNOU, I want to say that IGNOU Definitely maintains its standard in research. There is no comparison of IGNOU Study Material. The study material provided by IGNOU based on current information. IGNOU Conducts assignment works/ PCP Programmes / Seminars /Practical’s and Dissertation Work which is strictly evaluated by the Faculty of IGNOU and Compulsory to get a Degree from IGNOU which I think there is no such requirements by other distance mode Institution. Yes it is difficult for scholars in science subjects. Definitely it is important to follow certain parameters and regulations set by the UGC by all open universities and distance mode institutions.

  7. This tragic decision of lifting ban over MPhil and PhD through distance mode and the circumstantial arguments by which UGC might have been forced to reach towards this decision is not justifiable based on following grounds.
    Argument No.1: By justifying the ban, R.K. Chauhan, a former UGC Secretary said, “The quality of research programmes like PhD and MPhil is poor in the distant-learning mode. Large numbers of students pursued such courses, which were treated equivalent to the National Eligibility Test (NET) held to appoint lecturers”. On the contrary Prof. Rajasekaran Pillai honorable VC of IGNOU argued that “Our university is an autonomous organization under the IGNOU Act and is allowed to offer MPhil and PhD courses. We have been offering such courses since the 1990s. How can the UGC take away that power?” The UGC Act 1956 gives power to UGC to maintenance standards of learning and research in any Universities in India by (Chapter III Powers (12)).
    It shall be the general duty of the Commission to take, in consultation with the Universities or other bodies concerned, all such steps as it may think fit for the promotion and co-ordination of University education and for the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in Universities.
    UGC’s proposal of stopping Mphil and Ph.D through distance mode is not an act of taking away the power or autonomy of any Universities in India. The circumstances by which UGC reached towards the decision of ban of Mphil and Ph.D through distance mode in 2009 still exists. No wonders happened in Indian universities within few years to disprove Mr. R.K. Chauhan’s observation “The quality of research programmes like PhD and MPhil is poor in the distant-learning mode. Large numbers of students pursued such courses, which were treated equivalent to the National Eligibility Test (NET) held to appoint lecturers”.
    Prof. Rajasekharan Pillai’s claim is an over statement, “We will follow the rules but our regulations are already stricter than those of the UGC”. If IGNOU’s regulations are so stricter than UGC’s regulation why don’t all Indian Universities conducting regular Mphil and PhD follow IGNOU’s regulations!
    There is no doubt about IGNOU’s standard; therefore it exists as a proud to our nation. Once IGNOU got a privilege of conducting MPhil and PhD through distance mode because of the merit of IGNOU, I am sure that all the other Universities will claim for the same.
    But we are very happy to know about the news on the recent judgment by Madras High Court, it in fact questioned the basic premises of the core argument made by Prof. Rajasekharan Pillai regarding the UGC’ s power to intervene.
    In this context we request UGC to consider the following in the next meeting on 15th of September;
    1. The basic premises of UGC’s power to set the standard of higher education and research of any universities in India should not be challenged. Even though UGC bent on the widespread protests by various open universities including IGNOU, Hon High court of Madras realized the power and role of UGC.
    2. UGC should strictly suggest that UGCNET shall be the minimum eligibility to apply for Mphil and PhD even in open universities also. At first it should be implemented in all our central and state Universities. Let UGCNET shall be the minimum eligibility for doing MPhil and PhD in our Universities. By implementing it as a regulation we can avoid all candidates who are not up to the mark to continue higher education after post graduation. Eventually it will reduce the potentiality of generating “widespread protests by various open universities including IGNOU(!)” to argue for Mphil and PhD through distance mode.
    3. Conduct case studies of two or three Universities in India which have been shamelessly misused the distance mode MPhil and PhD programme. Mr. Pavan who already made allegation of two Universities in Andhra Pradesh can be contacted (he commented on 2nd September on this news in Education review).
    4. For the last three years UGC have been often “self suspending its power by cancelling and deferring the same decisions taken by UGC itself”. This is makes UGC conspicuous, mysterious and paradoxical. If it continues UGC too will lose its credibility like many other glorified institutions in our nation.
    Hope September 15th would not be a tragic day in the history of Higher education in Indian.
    P. Sreekumar, Asst. Professor
    Dravidian University,

  8. It is a welcome decision as it helps people like me who cannot carry on his education because of poverty. Allowing Mphil and PhD through distance and open mean it will help those who are working and want to carry on doing such courses simuntaneously.

  9. Lifting ban on distance mode PhD is something like entering into a fish market where quality does not matter, chaos all over, all comming with their justification for the work whether relevant or irrelevant. This will do no big to academia but make things difficult for times to come as we wont be able to differentiate between quality and junk

  10. It seems IGNOU like academic giants influence the policy formulations of the UGC. If popular appeal can put pressure on an eminent Academic leader of the Country to change its quality and standard maintaining body in the larger public interest the gullibility of the institution for not being rigid on this issue is really a matter of concern. Appointing committees under the senior academics who have proven with their fanciful innovations of no practical relevance quoting foreign examples may not suit Indian elements of quality. The committees must be with the younger generation who have exposure to modern and global outlooks taking our country to face challenges of GATs. Are we prepared? Piece meal solutions without any teeth even by the UGC is not proving its worth. It is my view that the UGC should rise to the occasion and prove its relevance as the custodian of quality in the interest of the country’s higher education and research. Manohar

  11. I am happy to hear that the UGC has lifted the ban on distance Ph.D. and M.Phil programmes. As a matter of fact, all Open Universities are exclusively Open Distance Education institutions. Most of the conventional universities are offering these research programmes through separate directorates of Distance Education. Instead of imposing ban it would be better to take action against the institutions those are not following the guidelines framed by the UGC.

  12. I welcome UGC decision on allowing research programs ( M.Phil/ PhD) through off-camps / distance mode. Not all researchers are enrolling for research programs for entering to teaching profession. I am a sr. corporate executive , submitted my PhD ( Management) thesis this year, also know a large number of my colleagues interested to join M.Phil/ PhD programs , FOR RESEARCH INTEREST ONLY. Unlike other developed countries ,most of us are looking research courses as steeping stone for entering teaching profession only.


  13. Welcome UGC ! Its good one decision in favor of those students/professionals who not able to do Research through on campus…. only question come to standard should maintain by related institutions/ Universities/ organizations for better results to develop knowledge cycle.

    With great regards.

  14. A great decision by UGC. It is the need of the hours. The policy makers always needs to take the right decisions at the time of need of the hours. Unless you don’t fulfill the necessities, you cannot benchmark on quality. Need of the hour is quantity. Since the demand is huge, the supply should respond. Education system must have enough number of Ph.D. holders to guide the Graduates and Post Graduates. India lost manufacturing sector, textile sector etc. to China by keep chanting quality mantras. Neither we catered to the global market nor even able to supply the needs of domestic market. Look at the five star university Ph.D. enrollment patterns and vacancies. Being a faculty and continuing your work, you cannot earn your Ph.D. by these universities because of cumbersome regulations. If these five star universities are so good, why cannot they increase the Ph.D. seats to respond the basic demands. Whatever the A.P. universities may be, at least they dared and responded to the demands and now started benchmarking, rather than involving in dirty politics within their own universities. Thousands of teaching faculties benefitted by these A.P. Universities. The worldwide statistics about Ph.D. holders are
    China = 40%
    Mexico = 17.1%
    Denmark = 10%
    India = 8.5%
    Korea = 7.1%
    Japan = 6.2%
    Australia = 6.2%
    Poland = 6.1%
    United Kingdom = 5.2%
    United States = 2.5%
    Canada = 1%
    Germany = 0%
    Hungary = -2.2%
    (Source URL :

    India’s domestic Ph.D. demands are not even met at bare minimum level, then how one can talk about quality. Our Ph.D. outcomes are 8% whereas the demands are 30% at the lowest level due to young population and success rate in higher education. Neither promise nor dream to deliver Mineral Water to everybody, where even normal good waters are not available properly.

  15. I agree with Mr P.Kumar. As per recent studies, per million students, 5278 joins research program in Japan , where as only 119 in India.
    He has rightly said, at list AP universities have taken a steep to address this issue. We need to see the positive side of this initiative rather then making hue & cry. and involving in dirty politics. Let’s all welcome UGC decision.

  16. As everybody is aware of lifting ban.. I have a small question for all of you. Please share your thoughts if you are near to the answer.

    a). “How many institues have taken this decision as an opportunity and started M.Phil distance eduction programs?
    b). If there are a few then how many or which are UGC qualified?”

    2. Same question for PHD adding another sub part-

    a). As above for PHD
    b). As above for PHD
    c). Is there any selection criteria for PHD enrollement? Is there any entrance or interview process behind?


  17. Central University, Pondicherry has been allowing Ph.D. off-campus allowing scholars to choose a guide even from abroad, and hold consultations with the guide over the net. Research in subjects like humanities can be done even from home in a remote village, if one has net connectivity. Times are gone when the centre for research was expected to have special infrastructural facility for research. Researches had to run round visiting libraries to collect materials. Now the whole world is available at the touch of a finger. It is retrograde to continue to hold timeworn and inane ideas and put a check to research off-campus particularly in humanities.
    Prof. M.D. Jayabalan

  18. We should encourage doctoral degree programme through distance mode since most of professional would get benefits along with its ongoing career.
    Another appeal to UGC Chairperson that UGC-NET Holder must be provided with some incentives for their doctoral programme during in service tenure.

  19. Wow what a wonderful decision taken by the UGC Higher authority concern, actually this upliftment of ban through distance mode would be beneficial for in-service masses.

  20. Very good decision it is a right step to make our nation strong . But why state J&K is not giving due respect to such degrees, due to which we the in-service people is suffering. Is this not a clear injustice.

  21. It is acceptable to do BLIS in this year 2012 july session because i have studied MBA in last year 2011 both in distance (IGNOU) ?

  22. सर्व शिक्षा मातृभाषामा नहुनु सुक्ष्म गतिमा दस हुनु हो |

    मातृभाषाको सम्मान राष्ट्रको सम्मान |

    माताको दुध शिशुलाई शिक्षा मातृभाषामा प्रभाव पर्छ सृष्टिलाई प्रकाशको गतिमा |