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Kerala University order on research guides creates disquiet among academics

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The Hindu |

An order of the University of Kerala — following a directive from the University Grants Commission —providing that academics would cease to be research guides on retirement has created disquiet in academic circles. Academics who spoke to The Hindu said the January 8 order would pave the way for a qualitative and quantitative downfall in the research sector. The order mandates that the university shall select a research supervisor from among only “regular faculty members.” Otherwise, it would be a violation of the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for award of MPhil/PhD Degree) Regulations, 2009, the UGC letter reads. What with the truncated staff strength in many university departments and affiliated colleges, there are not enough serving teachers to act as research guides, particularly in micro-specialisation subjects. Sasi Kumar, retired professor of Commerce, University of Kerala, said that given the existing number of research scholars it would be impossible to find enough number of professors to guide research work. “Earlier one guide could take on 10 research scholars. But now this has been reduced to eight. Even when it was 10 there weren’t enough serving teachers to meet the demand,” he explained. The orders mandates that scholars under a research guide at the time of the latter’s retirement shall be transferred to another guide (a regular faculty member).

Academics in affiliated colleges stand to lose out the most under the new arrangement. Teachers in affiliated colleges retire when they are 56. Those in university departments retire only at 60. However, academics at central universities retire only at 65. “This means that a teacher in an affiliated college loses out on up to 14 years of being a research guide,” said V. Prasannakumar, professor of Geology at the University of Kerala. Dr. Prasannakumar pointed out that under the new rule employees of research institutions who have been approved as research guides would also cease to have that facility. B. Ekbal, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Kerala, told The Hindu that fixing an upper-age limit for academics to be research guides is unscientific. “If a retired teacher is associated with some industry, he should not guide research in that area as there would be conflict of interest. Otherwise there is no logic in fixing an upper age for acting as research guides,” he said. – Courtesy     /    University of Kerala : Norms for Research


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