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UGC’s 50% Rule for M.Phil & PhD: An Assault on Higher Education?

Postgraduate students who had applied to DU for M.Phil & PhD claim that the UGC’s ‘50 percent’ criteria is unfair. 

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Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma

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Postgraduate students who had applied to Delhi University for M.Phil and PhD are upset with a recent notification by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

In 2016, a rule passed by the UGC had made it mandatory for candidates to secure 50 percent in a written exam to qualify for the interview. But the DU administration decided to use the benchmark of 50 percent this year.

Merit list of students who had made it to the interview had been put out already. Now, the students who were called for the interview are protesting the retrospective implementation of the UGC regulations.

  • Postgraduate students sat on a hunger strike for a day on 1 August 2018 outside DU campus.

    (Photo: The Quint)

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Is the ‘50 Percent’ Criteria Fair?

My interview was scheduled for 25 August 2018 but the announcement about the ‘50 percent rule’ came on 23 August. I had studied so hard but now all my efforts have been wasted due to this notification.
Feroz Alam, Candidate, M.Phil (History)     

For those who have not been able to get 50 percent marks, the notification means that they will have to spend another year preparing for the exam.

I had got 87 out of 188 marks and my overall rank was 19th while, category-wise I stood at 5th position. I had managed to get these marks despite negative marking. Due to this notification, I’ll have to take a drop for another year.
Sachin Dev, Candidate, M.Phil (History)     
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Few Eligible Candidates Across Departments

It’s a setback for those who were hopeful of pursuing further studies from DU and had started working on research proposal.

Around 58 departments have been affected by this rule. In some departments, not a single student is eligible. In my opinion, students are being deprived of their rights, and this is another blow to higher education.
Sachin Dev, Candidate, M.Phil (History)     

For subjects such as Geology, Botany, Persian and Statistics, not a single student has been able to cross the 50 percent mark.

A statement by a forum of students, called ‘Against UGC Farman’, issued on 29 July stated:

Enforcement of the UGC Gazette which sets 50 percent minimum in entrance test to be eligible for interview is a violation of the Constitution.
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Students Direct Ire at BJP-led Govt

Following the outcry by students, RJD leader and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha has also written a letter to HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar. Referring to the new regulation as ‘anti-student’ and ‘anti-social justice’, Jha has asked for a review of the decision to implement the ‘50 percent criteria’.

Though the admission process has been postponed in all departments, candidates are blaming the govt for implementing policies that are hurting the interest of students:

Postgraduate students who had applied to DU for M.Phil & PhD claim that the UGC’s ‘50 percent’ criteria is unfair. 
If you look at the way this government has tried to scrap the fellowship for M.Phil and PhD and reduced the number of seats at many institutes, it seems that the Modi government is trying to destroy higher education thereby, allowing the entry of private players.
Deepak, Candidate, M.Phil (History)

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