Will Lower Eligibility for Assistant Professor Lead to a Decline in the Quality of Teaching?
The University Grants Commission has issued a revised regulation on the minimum qualifications for appointing teachers and academic staff in universities and colleges. The regulation came into effect on July 1, 2023. According to the revised regulation, the following are the essential qualifications for direct recruitment to the post of Assistant Professor in all Universities, Colleges & institutions of Higher Education:
- A Master’s degree with at least 55 percent marks or an equivalent grade/GPI from a recognized university; &
- A NET/SET/SLET Certificate.
From now onwards, the Ph.D. qualification is no longer mandatory for the post of Assistant Professor. It may also be observed that in national government institutions like NIEPA, Ph.D. is an essential qualification that has been followed for over three decades. However, the 2023 UGC Regulation specifies that the candidates with a Ph.D. will be given preference in the selection process. In addition to the essential qualifications, the following are the desirable qualifications for the post of Assistant Professor:
- A good academic record
- Relevant research experience
- Teaching experience
- Communication & presentation skills
The UGC has also issued several guidelines for the selection of Assistant Professors. These guidelines include: The selection process should be transparent and merit-based; the selection committee should be constituted of experts in the relevant field; the selection criteria should be clearly defined; and the selection process should be conducted promptly.
The revised regulation and the guidelines issued by the UGC envisage it as a step towards ensuring that the best and brightest minds will be recruited to the teaching profession across the country as well as the same will help to improve the quality of education in universities and colleges, which a few may question?
UGC Notification of 2018
It may, however, be observed that in an earlier notification regarding the minimum qualifications for teachers and academic staff positions in universities and colleges with effect from July 1, 2018, the UGC made a Ph.D. degree in the relevant subject essential for the post of Assistant Professor. However, the same through the July 1, 2023 notification, Ph.D. is no more an essential qualification. However, candidates with a Master’s degree and NET/SET/SLET certificate were also eligible in 2018 to apply for the post. However, they were not considered for the selection unless there were no eligible Ph.D. candidates.
The UGC revised the notification in 2023 and made the Ph.D. qualification no longer mandatory for the post of Assistant Professor, which is said to be done to make the teaching profession more accessible to qualified candidates who do not have a Ph.D. degree.
Will Lowering Qualification Affect Quality of Teaching?
The impact of lowering eligibility for Assistant Professors on the quality of teaching is a complex issue with no easy answers. In addition to the qualifications, there are several factors to consider, including the level of education and experience of the candidates, the quality of the selection process, and the resources available to support teaching.
Some people argue that lowering eligibility will decline the quality of teaching in the classroom. They point out that a Ph.D. degree is a rigorous academic qualification demonstrating high research and teaching skills. They also argue that Ph.D. holders are more likely to be up-to-date on the latest research in their field, which can benefit students.
Others argue that lowering eligibility will not necessarily lead to a decline in the quality of teaching. They point out that many qualified candidates do not have a Ph.D. degree. They also argue that the quality of teaching is more than just the academic qualifications. It also depends on the individual’s passion for teaching, ability to communicate effectively, and ability to connect with students.
Ultimately, the impact of lowering eligibility on the quality of teaching will depend on several factors. It is crucial to have a rigorous selection process through which only the most qualified candidates are appointed. They provide adequate resources to support teachings, such as library access, research facilities, and professional development opportunities.
Here are some of the potential pros and cons of lowering eligibility for Assistant Professor:
- It can make the teaching profession more accessible to qualified candidates who do not have a Ph.D. degree.
- It can help to diversify the teaching faculty, which can be beneficial for students; and
- It can reduce the cost of hiring Assistant Professors, saving universities and colleges money.
- It could lead to a decline in the quality of teaching
- It could make it more difficult for universities and colleges to attract top talent;
- It could lead to an increase in the number of unqualified teachers in the classroom.
It is essential to consider the pros & cons carefully before making any judgment on whether lowering the eligibility for an assistant professor will also affect the quality of teaching. There is no easy answer, and the best decision will vary depending on the specific circumstances of each university or college. It may be known that the low-salaried contractual guest faculty manage many state university departments across India. Because of concerns raised by academia, the University Grants Commission must clarify why it has made Ph.D. mandatory through its 01/07/2018 ordinance and why it has removed Ph.D. as an essential qualification to become an Assistant Professor through its 1st July 2023 ordinance. Both the students, & faculty want to know what has changed between 2018 & 2023.