UGC to rethink ban on distance PhD

The University Grants Commission (UGC) will now seek legal opinion on its two-year-old ban on MPhil and PhD courses through distance learning. The decision came after universities have claimed that such a ban is hampering their autonomy. The commission discussed the matter at its last meeting on February 3, 2011 and decided to seek legal opinion on whether its regulations can override powers conferred on the universities by their acts to offer such courses, a source said.

The UGC came out with a rule in 2009— the Minimum Standards and Procedure for Awards of MPhil/PhD Degree Regulation — that states research courses in the distant mode were of poor quality. The regulations have put a question mark on the future of nearly 10,000 students pursing such courses through universities across the country and the degrees that they will eventually get. Even those who have got such degrees since the regulations were issued face uncertainty.

In order to protest the rule Open University IGNOU and evn regular universities have argued that their respective laws, passed by Parliament or the state legislatures, allowed them to offer such courses.

Although there are institutions like IGNOU which are not following the bar, “The UGC regulations do not apply to us as we have been allowed to offer such courses under our act. That is why we did not stop our PhD and MPhil programmes,” vice-chancellor Rajasekharan Pillai said.


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.”

Chauhan contrasted the distance-learning programmes with the relatively tougher UGC rules that apply to the regular PhD and MPhil courses, under which students are to be given admission through an entrance test and must do a course before start working on their thesis.

But Ignou vice-chancellor Pillai claimed the UGC had no authority to debar universities from offering any course. “Our university is an autonomous organisation 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?” Officials of the central varsity have met a UGC panel and demanded that the ban be lifted. Pillai said IGNOU’s MPhil and PhD were more rigorous programmes. Students have to do a course work and get their research published in a varsity-prescribed journal.

But A.N. Mishra, president of the Federation of the Central University Teachers’ Association, argued that as the statutory body regulating higher education, the UGC could set standards to maintain quality in research programmes.

[Source: The Telegraph]

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313 thoughts on “UGC to rethink ban on distance PhD”

  1. The India has several renowned institutions like the IITs and IISc and many more central universities and we stand 10 years behind in the global research community ( specially in engineering). The creamy layer of graduates preferred to settle down and work overseas just because of few million bucks. These graduates do not take up teaching and research. The knowledge acquaint by these graduates is not contributed to the body of knowledge.
    UGC is marketing a Ph. D degree (courtesy to the current policies) rather than the executable research work. Most of the faculty members gets their promotions and become successful professor because of Ph.D Green Card. The research scholar, with say two to five papers, gets a Ph D degree. He is more than happy. But, in reality these researcher including faculty members don’t know how to design an experiment, analyze the results and write a research paper. This trend exists even in government R & D laboratories of India.
    Ph.D is a degree of philosophy that can be awarded to any philosopher like degree honoris causa is a pure academic degree for which universities waive their formal requirements, such as matriculation, graduation, post-graduation, residence, formal course work and may be awarded to someone who has no prior academic credential. This is done just to derive the benefits by association with the person in question. In degree honoris causa, UGC doesn’t object about the quality because their credential, milestones and status are well known to the world.
    In my personal opinion, Ph.D degree shall be free from all the academic constraints, formal requirements and can be awarded to any one like degree honorais causa who prove themselves. For example, I have completed a good research work (obviously good is universally good) in particular field then let others authenticate my research work. Let me submit my executable research work to some global institutions/research organization (not necessarily a university) and allow them to accept or reject my work. Let them award the Ph.D degree. Such institution or organization can be indentified in the country. I am very disappointed to learn that UGC is still stuck with Norms, rules, regulations but not with the quality of research, Infrastructure and environment.
    UGC shall ask what mentorship he has provided for doing cutting-edge research on a sustained basis rather than controlling the admission process. Instead of debate, the UGC, Universities and other authorities shall think how an Indian Ph.D scholar can stand up in the global research community and can catch up the current research work being done in the counties like Korea, USA, Japan and China.
    I strongly agree with the comments of Dr Chalapathi on the worst scenario of research in Indian institutions.

  2. Saying about the quality in research works like Ph.D. is not appropriate. It is about dealing. In more than 80% of the cases degree is awarded on the basis of dealings, personal works done by the candidates, charan vandana etc. Be it a regular student, off-campus student or whatever is the mode, fact remains same. Please check the theses of IITs and other premier institutes you can see that at least more than 50% theses are copied from some where. WHAT TO SAY ABOUT THE QUALITY?????????????????????????????????????????

  3. good if the UGC provides strict rules for Ph.d research programme and allow the institutions to have the distance mode.

  4. In present scanario, as research work is supposed to be authenticated by publishing research papers in either international confences or in international journals. but fact is that now a days most of the conferences or or journals are just the medium to earn money without maintaining their can see it by one way out is the stepwise process of marking the work progess by making one inetrantional body of renouned persons in the concern field. and let them check even the the synopsis and then standard of every paper of these poeple must be included in their final thesis prepapration. it may take long time but quality can be maintained a bit.

  5. The Ph.D. and M. Phil programmes are becoming Jokes in the country even in regular Universities what to talk of Distance Education Universities. You get Ph.D. degree by just paying Rs.70,000-1,00, 000 to your Guide and that is it. The M. Phil and Ph.D. through DE in majority of cases are at best can be described as “Koddh mein Khaaj !” unless done in regular face to face mode or part-time (with distance restrictions) basis. I have come across cases where persons who never ever guided even single Masters, M. Phil or Ph.D. students in their life but now guiding 12 students for their Ph.D.through distance mode. It is sudden spurt o fDegree Mill in the country in the name of Gross Enrolment Ratio. Every DE institution or deemed University is talking about its powers to award degrees but no University is talking about QUALITY. We are now determined to demolish the whole higher education system (especially the DE system) in the country. Its just unfortunate. May be some day, organizations like India Against Corruption, Baba Ramdev or like will be forced to take-up such issues as well. I fully support the views expressed prof. Aditya Narain Mishra of DU.

  6. Let the UGC take up the task of grading all the PhDs awarded. Say on a 10-point scale. For there are PhDs and PhDs.

  7. Universities can offer Ph.D courses in distance mode with the standrds of part time mode. In my view there is a very less differences in between the part time Ph.D and Distance Ph.d, both are belongs to the same university, under the same VC and the same guides will guide in both cases. Then what is there to fear to continue and provide equal importance as part time Ph.D.
    If the university follows the norms both ways may give fruitful results, where as the university failed to follow the norms both the ways may produce ineffective Doctorates.

  8. Its just fine in Humanities and Social Sciences and in IT/Comp.Sc. as the scholars in DE mode can keep contact with their Supervisors like Part Time scholars in the regular mode. Moreover, with use of IT/ICT, contact have become easily achieved any time anywhere. But in Science subjects, Ph.D. in DE mode should never be allowed as it would be essential to work in standard research-level labs in close contact with the guide.
    Instead of casting aspersions and raising suspicions on the DE mode, let us try to ensure quality assurance to this mode. Rapid expansion of higher education in India ( GER 25% or so as proposed by NKC ) can not be achieved without DE mode. The challenge lies in designing better curricular work, better delivery systems integrating ICT and ITeS and exam. reforms to improve quality of education under DE mode.

  9. Supreme court has ruled that the UGC regulations (not all orders) are binding on all Universities. The judgement came in the wake of opposition from several Universities to implement NET as mandatory qualification for the appointment of teachers.

    Academically, the situation is not much better in several regular Universities.
    NET must remain a mandatory qualification, unless Ph. D. thesis is accompanied by at least two publications. There is enough expertise available to UGC to identify Journals in each subject.
    The views expressed are personal and not of the University, I belong to.

  10. After completing LL.M Degree in First Class, as I was scouting around for institutions which offered Ph.D by Distance Mode (DM). I came across the Ph.D course offered by DM by NLU, Jodhpur in collaboration with IMT, Ghaziabad. This was sometime in mid-2009. Upon making enquiries at NLU, I was told that I may enroll for the course. But upon cross-verifying with IMT (since by then I had come to know of UGC circular for banning Ph.D by DM), I was told that the course is no more offered.

    I just checked the web-sites of both the Universities today (08-09-2011) and the position is reversed. Where the web-site of NLU has taken off the course from its web-site, it is shown as still being offerred by IMT-CDL)! Is it because UGC is rethinking on the issue?

    It is high time the UGC sets at rest all this confusion regarding Ph.D by DM. More so in a situation where most of the institutions across the country are offering part-time Ph.D courses with no residential requirement, whereas the said course offered by NLU-IMT mandates 60 days of residential requirement during the course of the study. Isn’t it good enough?

    I guess totally banning Ph.D courses by DM would be like throwing the baby alongwith the bath-water. This move could also prove to be counter-productive, in the sense, it would thwart genuine research by working scholars, which is undesirable when India is lagging behind in research.

    However in order to control the quality of research and discourage dubious scholars from obtaining Ph.D degree by any mode, the UGC may come up with guidelines to deal with issues like plagiarism. One such guideline may be the creation of a ‘online thesis bank’ in which soft copies of all Ph.D thesis may be uploaded and kept open for liberal scrutiny for a certain period for inviting objections; and the degree may be awarded only if no sustainable objections are received.

    In a step further towards cleansing the academic world, even thereafter, only a provisional degree may be awarded for a period of say one year, and if any provable complaint of plagiarism is received within the said period, the provisional degree may be revoked and the name of such candidates may be uploaded in a central web-site which would bar him/her from pursuing Ph.D course from any university in India, probably for a few years. This should not be difficult to implement in today’s net-worked world.

    On a parting note, the UGC should realise that education by DM is not only here to stay but also the only way forward in disseminating higher education, especially amongst the working academicians/professionals. After all, it would be unfair to expect academecians and professionals to give up their secure jobs to pursue a full-time Ph.D course, especially in a situation where a Ph.D degree does not ensure one. On the other hand what academic inputs may be expected out of students who neither have the experience in their area of research nor exposure to real-life situations which only a working academician/ professional can bring into his research work?

    In the light of the above, the sooner the UGC comes up with a clear policy on this isue, the better it would be. Already more than two academic years have been lost in this embroglio!

  11. 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.

  12. I, Awesh Kumar Seth, R/o Varanasi appeared in RET-2010 in July-2010 of U.P. Autonomous College Varanasi. After passing a very long time period of nearly one and half years, the College declared the results and called me to take admission on 14 March 2012.

    On scheduled date and time I appeared before the Faculty of Commerce.

    After discussing with the Faculty Members I was unable to find assistance/ guidance from any of the members just because of non coordination of the UGC Rules for Ph.D. program and the scarce time which i was able to manage to spend for.

    I told that the result has been declared after a long period of time and now i have greater responsibility, in comparison to what i had lesser a year ago, because my father is reaching towards retirement from his business and also i have a 6 months old daughter-child now. so being sole son i have to manage my business too, in spite of all those responsibilities i could mange 2-3 hours daily for doing research, if they allow me.

    But any Faculty Members did not satisfy with the reasons given by me and told me that the said time in not enough and since i am unable to manage and dedicate full time for this research program as per the UGC Rules so any of them could not allow me to guide for.

    Ultimately, i had to compel to refuse my selection call with lot of pain.

    Now i have following queries based on the situation i experienced during the admission(actually not admitted) procedure:–

    1. Whether an Academic Research is solely meant for Academic/Educational purpose?isn’t meant for entrepreneurial or other fields too?

    2. If someone is doing Research for the award of Doctorate Degree then its utility is only to serve as educationist/ teachers in Academics/ Educational field? Can a person not be allowed to do Ph.D. for expansion of his/her personal knowledge in order to spread the acquired knowledge in the society for its well being in the role of Social activist or others too?

    3. Is an Entrepreneur (Micro/Small/Medium Business) not eligible to do Research and being awarded the prestigious Doctorate Degree?

    4. Can a self employed person/ entrepreneur not do a quality research and provide either the new fact or redefine the old facts in the light of modern knowledge while managing his job too?

    5. Where and how a self employed person, who is able to manage part time, can do research and be awarded the Doctorate Degree?

    6. Can UGC and such other authorities monitoring Higher Education in India, not effort in order to provide liberal rules/ terms/ conditions for such aspiring people desirous of doing quality research and be awarded Doctorate Degree?

    7. Though you can name IGNOU for part time Ph.D. But even the rules/ terms/condition of IGNOU are not so liberal. Because IGNOU too calls aspiring candidates on its Head Office to conduct Research. If a person desirous of doing so from a small city/ town like Varanasi, is also not able to do so from same place and S/he has to go to the Head Office because all research related program of IGNOU is administered from its Head Office only and also Guides are available mostly at Head office only.

    8. Therefore its my humble query that how can i make my dream come true of doing quality research along with managing my job, spending part time only, at my native place, on liberal norms/ terms/ conditions and be awarded the Doctorate Degree?

    Awesh Kumar Seth
    Varanasi -U.P.

  13. I want to do part time Ph.D in English through distance course for my better career.Therefore I should be given a formal approval as soon as it is allowed..

  14. I want to complaint about the phd thesis data used in the phd of a research scholar. he simply manipulate it and used it. all the data was faked and his work is totally rubbish. but he was awarded a pdh degree. i want to know how to complaint about this rubbish work & want to re enquiry ? re checked the thesis report & data.

    Kindly inform me whom & where to complaint about this fraud & loss of INDIA


    anam khan