The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) strongly condemns the UGC’s latest decision to discontinue the non-NET fellowships for M.Phil. and Ph.D. students from the next academic session. Ironically, the recommendation to do away with these fellowships was made by an expert committee constituted earlier in the year to make a proper framework for implementation of the non-NET fellowships and look at the possibilities of enhancement of these fellowships.
The DUTA strongly believes that such a move will be extremely detrimental to the cause of research in our country. At present, the non-NET researchers were drawing a fellowship of Rs. 5000 a month at the M.Phil. level and Rs. 8000 a month at the Ph.D. level. Thousands of research scholars were able to conduct their research work banking primarily on these non-NET fellowships. The UGC’s present move will have disastrous consequences for research since students henceforth will be deprived of even this minimal support for doing research.
The DUTA sees this move by the UGC as a direct consequence of the slashing of the funds allocated to the higher education sector in the last central government budget. In the case of Delhi University, this comes in the wake of the UGC decision to slash funds to Trust colleges and the threat to bring the grants down to 90%.
It is ironic that these frequent budget cuts are being undertaken even as the Government keeps issuing statements about the need to improve the quality of higher education and raise the international rankings of Indian universities. Such anti-education measures foreshadow the opening of Higher Education for trade under WTO–GATS, which is on the agenda of the Ministerial Meet scheduled 15-18 December 2015.
The DUTA demands an immediate revocation of the scrapping of the non-NET fellowships. It expresses solidarity with all students and student organisations across the country protesting this UGC decision. It strongly criticises the refusal by the UGC Chairperson to meet the representatives of students protesting outside the UGC and the brutal police attack on them after they were forced to continue their protest all-night.