ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Academics or Technicians?


The demand for higher education is growing in India, matching the growth of the economy and population. Along with this, the demand for PhD programmes is also rising. The two main drivers are the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) requirement for having PhD degrees in order to become faculty in colleges and universities, and the global university ranking system that favours research over teaching. Participation in the global ranking system is also increasing among universities. As a result, the production and publication of PhDs has become a numbers game. The number of PhD candidates enrolled in India in 2016–17 was 1,23,712. The corresponding figures for 2015–16 and 2014–15 were 1,09,552 and 1,00,792,respectively. This indicates a 22% growth in PhD enrolment over three years. The Government of India has set a target of graduating 20,000 PhDs per year by 2020.

This is indeed, a positive development if the PhDs produced are of high quality. But, on several occasions, questions regarding the “quality” of research have been raised. In order to improve quality, the UGC has made several changes. One important change is the restriction of enrolment under each research supervisor to a maximum of eight PhD students. Of course, the question of quality research is not country specific; it is a global issue. In an article on 8 February 2014, the Economist commented: “Oceans of papers with little genuine insight are published in obscure periodicals that no manager would ever dream of reading.”

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Updated On : 8th Jun, 2018


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