In the present day scenario of the world, events are moving fast and there should not be a delay in reforms of higher education. The higher education sector has witnessed tremendous growth since independence. It boasts of 44 Central Universities, 298 State Universities, 148 State Private Universities, 130 Deemed Universities and 82 MHRD-funded technical institutions, including IITs, IIMs, IISERs, etc.
It is said that India’s higher education sector is working with only half of the teacher strength it actually needs. Faced with quality faculty crunch in educational institutions, the Government has set up several task forces and committees to study the problem and suggest a way out to make appropriate recommendations for its alleviation, but nothing has been achieved so far.
(India’s huge population that increases the count of students as well)
India has a population of 1.27 billion, and it is very shameful to say that there is acute shortage of faculty in different streams in India. Much of it can be attributed to the 6% policy criteria of UGC NET exam whereby UGC only clears 6% candidates out of total appearing candidates in more than 100 streams to be eligible for the post of Assistant Professor in India.
The National Eligibility Test (NET) also known as UGC NET or NTA-UGC-NET, is a test to determine eligibility for college and university level lectureship and for the award of Junior Research Fellowship JRF (JRF) for Indian nationals.
The University Grants Commission’s (UGC) policy of declaring only 6% of those candidates who appear in both the papers of UGC National Eligibility Test exam and obtain minimum qualifying marks in aggregate of both the papers is unconstitutional as it is arbitrary, unreasonable and not satisfying the test of reasonableness under Article 14 of the Constitution.
Previously UGC allowed total 15 percent of those candidates who appear in National Eligibility Test exam to be qualified. The present criteria of only allowing 6% candidates to be declared as passed in NET exams in all streams is defeating the purpose of UGC- National Eligibility Test Exam which aims at checking the eligibility only to be an Assistant Professor in India and it is not a Competitive Exam. By merely clearing this exam, does not ensure a post for Assistant Professor as this exam is just an Eligibility Test and does not result in any job surety thereafter, unlike clearing Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Provincial Civil Service (PCS) or Judiciary Exams.
There is a minimum required score prescribed by UGC NET Eligibility exam (40% for general candidates and 35 % for reserved candidates), but UGC makes a merit list and only 6% of those candidates who appear in both the papers and obtain minimum qualifying marks in aggregate of both the papers are considered as NET qualified, unlike Bar Council of India Exam (All India Bar Exam, (AIBE) which is an eligibility test and open book exam for determining the eligibility of Lawyers to practice in courts in India which prescribes minimum 40% score to clear AIBE as the exam is just a qualifying exam/eligibility test exam and not a competitive exam. All those who score the minimum marks are eligible.
All the eligibility exams have a minimum required score to be obtained by the candidate after which h/she is declared successful, unlike the UGC NET which provides for clearing only 6% candidates appearing for both papers out of the total pool of candidates making it more like a competitive exam than it’s true nature which is eligibility exam clear in one exam (total 12% candidates are cleared in a year as this UGC –NET exam happens twice a year). Candidates for UGC NET exam have to suffer a lot because of 6% criteria of UGC to clear this eligibility exam and even for one exam (in 6 months) lakhs of candidates appear and UGC may be earning in crores (approximately 6 lakh candidates appeared in UGC NET 2018 and the fees for general category was rs 800 ) which means government is earning in crores in 6 months due to this exam.
In the light of the only total 6% candidates clearing NET exam conducted by UGC and absence of no minimum required score and preparation of merit list of only 6 % candidates out of total number of candidates presently this exam has become a competitive exam and lost it’s relevance of being an Eligibility test. The number of candidates appeared for both papers in UGC NET, 2018 exam was 6,81,930 covering 101 subjects. The exam was conducted 598 centres in 91 cities. Out of 6,81,930 candidates of all streams appeared, 44,001 candidates cleared NET Exam and 3883 cleared NET exam with JRF.Even the 6% result criteria of UGC –NET exam is not making sense as aspirants who can’t clear UGC-NET JRF Exam, even if they qualify UGC-NET exam appear for UGC-NET JRF exam twice thrice or till the age they can appear as per notification, leading to blocking of seats of candidates who can become bonafide teachers by clearing UGC-NET exam and can fill the long list pendency of teachers in Government and Private colleges and Universities across India.
Interestingly the UGC bulletin for NET exam 2018 to 2020 clearly provides for condition of “Both JRF and Assistant Professor” as only 40% aggregate marks in both the papers taken together for general candidates and 35% aggregate marks in both the papers for reserved candidates to be UGC NET qualified. The UGC presently is making the merit out of total number of candidates appearing even if general candidates are securing 40% marks in both papers and 35 % marks are secured by reserved candidates making it a competitive exam and diluting its real purpose which is to check the eligibility. In any situation by securing the minimum marks (40 percent for general candidates and 35 percent for reserved candidates) one does not get qualified in the NET. In order to qualify the NET, the candidates should come within the 6%of the merit lists prepared on the basis of aggregate marks category wise. This has resulted in a fewer number of candidates qualifying as assistant professors in some fields and leading to dearth of teachers in Government and Private colleges and universities across India. The policy of clearing only 6% candidates for NET eligibility test is clearly a policy which needs to be quashed on ground of irrational and being arbitrary and not satisfying the test of reasonableness as prescribed under article 14 of the constitution. Further this test is conducted twice a year which makes the same candidates to appear twice for a eligibility exam. The UGC can clear 50 percent of those candidates who appear in both the and obtain minimum qualifying in aggregate of both the papers (40%) to be declared NET qualified, without making a merit for a qualifying/eligibility exam which does not ensure job and after which exam a person has to appear in interviews.
Each State Government is conducting their own state eligibility test and therefore clearing 6% candidates which itself dilutes the purpose of UGC NET conducted by Ministry of Human Resources Development and University Grants Commission. Further the UGC allows even a person who is appearing in Masters Degree for UGC NET Exam. The candidates when they are in their Master Degrees appear for UGC Net exam and clear UGC net exam, their score is valid for just two years, which means that this exam is a eligibility exam and putting a bar of 6% to clear UGC NET exam is just creating a dearth of teachers in India.
(The article is authored by Kush Kalra, Advocate.)