Unveiling New Horizons in PhD

-Prof. Shyam Sundar Bhatia 
For the youth aspiring to pursue a PhD, there is significant news coming from the University Grants Commission (UGC). Or rather, one should say it shouldn’t come as a surprise; for those aspiring to pursue a PhD, the UGC has now presented a valuable gift with a new lease on life. Starting from the academic year 2024-25, only one national eligibility test (NET) will be required for admission to PhD programs. This is a significant part of the New Education Policy 2020. With this step by top institutions of higher education, there will no longer be a need for numerous entrance exams across the country. Following recommendations from a specially appointed expert committee to review the NET exam provisions, this important decision has been made. The UGC announced its implementation starting from June. Notably, along with the recommendations to implement the NEP-2020, the central government had deemed the M.Phil degree unnecessary. Following this decision by the UGC, now neither government nor private universities across the country are awarding M.Phil degrees. Until now, the NET exam primarily determined eligibility for Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) and appointments of Assistant Professors. Its scope has now been expanded. Across India, NET will be the eligibility criteria for admission to PhD programs. Admission to PhD will be based on percentile along with the candidate’s scores. Let it be known, under the PhD Regulation Act-2022, admission to PhD was mainly granted through interviews for JRF-pass students. The UGC has also issued notifications regarding the guidelines for these new changes.
According to the new rules, from June 2024, eligibility for UGC NET will be in three categories for prospective candidates. First, those eligible for PhD admissions alongside JRF and Assistant Professor appointments. Second, those applicants eligible for PhD admissions without JRF but desiring Assistant Professor appointments. Third, those fully eligible for PhD programs. The weightage of NET scores for PhD admissions will be 70% in two or three categories through NET, while 30% weightage will be given through interviews. This interview will be conducted by the selected university. This certificate will be valid for one year. If the candidate does not enroll during this period, they will become ineligible. In such cases, the candidate will have to retake the NET exam. With slogans like ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan,’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dedication to research shows how serious our central government is about global rankings. For the period 2021-22, a budget of 50,000 crores has been allocated for the National Research Foundation (NRF). It is hoped that new avenues of progress will emerge in the field of research. According to Prime Minister Modi, students need to adopt a way of life that embraces research and innovation. Addressing participants of the Smart India Hackathon via video conference, he said that innovation is now receiving more acceptance in society. Referring to research, he said that participants of the Smart India Hackathon are its torchbearers. Renowned educator Prof. Yashpal believes that institutions where research and its quality are not given attention neither contribute to education nor to society.
With confidence, UGC Chairman Prof. M. Jagdish Kumar says that this change will undoubtedly contribute invaluable to academic exploration and scholarly advancement in the country. Prof. Kumar says that the National Testing Agency (NTA) is set to take shape from next week. This will not only relieve students from the preparation of various PhD entrance exams conducted by various universities but also reduce the burden of examination resources and costs. Educators believe that not only will the UGC NET exam open doors to prestigious universities based on your scores, but it will also make it easier for you to receive attractive scholarships. Now, there is no need to take entrance exams for PhD admissions at IITs, IIMs, or any other university in the country, as the one PhD entrance exam formula has been implemented.
India is one of the fastest-growing research countries in the world. According to the QS Research World University, there has been an increase of about 54% in India’s research output between 2017-2022. This is more than twice the global average, which is 22%. This included 66 universities in India. After China, the US, and the UK, India stands fourth in the world in terms of research. According to QS, India has produced 1.3 million academic papers between 2017-2022. During this period, about 15% of research papers were published in top journals. QS has revealed this in its ranking. The UK’s figure for academic papers is 1.4 million. There is no doubt that India will surpass the UK in the near future. Additionally, India ranks ninth in the world with 8.9 million citations in Science. QS Research World University Ranking analyzed data from more than 1300 universities in over 93 countries, including India, to determine this ranking. Factors such as research output, teaching quality, and employer reputation were included in the ranking. The most abundant field of research in India is engineering and technology. Following that, natural sciences, life sciences, and medicine rank high. India contributes 19% of its research output with two or more countries, which is more than the global average of 21%. There is no doubt that India is the fastest-growing research hub in the world.
(The author is a Senior Hindi Journalist and Research Scholar. Currently, he is a Media Manager at a prominent private university in North India; *7500200085* . The translator is Ms. Zoya Abrar Khan a Research Scholar at Department of Mass Communication, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh; *8126302382* )

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