The human resource development ministry has set new rules for award of research degrees such as MPhil and PhD at Indian universities.
The HRD ministry has also relaxed several rules for women candidates, including allowing a 240-day maternity break from their studies.
The new rules are aimed at putting in place a “proper system” for doctoral studies and streamline their administration, duration and quality, said higher education secretary V.S. Oberoi. The rules are also intended to allow women greater flexibility in pursuing research.
In 2013-14, some 107,890 students were pursuing PhD in India. That was less than 0.4% of the total student enrollment in the country. Of the students pursuing a PhD, only around 3,335 were women.
Following are some of the key changes:
(1) MPhil duration: Minimum two consecutive semesters or one year, and a maximum of four consecutive semesters or two years.
(2) PhD duration: Minimum of three years, including course work, and a maximum of six years. Extension beyond the limit to be governed by statute or ordinance of the individual institution.
(3) Number of PhD scholars per supervisor now has been fixed at 8/6/4 for professor/associate professor/assistant professor, respectively. It was eight per supervisor earlier.
(4) Number of MPhil scholars per supervisor now at 3/2/1 for professor/associate professor/assistant professor, respectively. It was five per supervisor earlier.
(5) Only a full-time regular teacher of the concerned university/college can act as a supervisor. It means an external, visiting, adjunct or part-time teacher in a university cannot be the core supervisor of a research scholar. However, a co-supervisor can be allowed in inter-disciplinary areas.
(6) Special provisions have been provided for women scholars. For a female research candidate, the course duration has been relaxed by two years for PhD and one year for MPhil courses. It also applies to physically handicapped candidates with 40% disability.
(7) The new rules allow the women candidates maternity leave, or child-care leave, once during the entire duration of their MPhil/PhD programmes for up to 240 days.
(8) Women candidates can now also transfer research data due to relocation to new institutions. It means that if a woman candidate shifts her place of work or residence because of any personal or professional reasons, she can shift her research work from one university to another close to her where she is moving.