Can research really be equated with teaching?
CHANGE University Grants Commission says time spent by a student on a PhD degree will be counted as teaching experience. Is this a good move?
Researchers have reasons to cheer. The University Grants Commission ( UGC) recently announced that the time spent by a student in doing research for a PhD degree without leave will be counted as teaching experience when they apply for direct recruitment to vacant faculty positions in colleges and universities.
Experts, however, say that t hough t he announcement will help candidates, the focus on research should not shift. B Thimme Gowda, vice chancellor, Bangalore University, says, “I concur with the UGC proposal of counting the time spent on research as teaching experience. In universities, teaching and research should go hand in hand. The research experience should not be more than 50% of the service required for higher teaching positions.” GOOD MOVE, BUT CHALLENGES GALORE Calling the UGC move a welcome step, Meenakshi Gopinath, former member, UGC, says, “The artificial divide between teaching and research must be overcome and both activities must complement one another. This looks like an enabling step so that young scholars can avail greater opportunities for mobility within the teaching profession. The UGC clarification does not address the issue of years of experience requirements.”
Experts say a large number of PhD holders will benefit from the announcement. Official recognition of the research period as equivalent to teaching experience will open up employment avenues for many unemployed meritorious students and also address the issue of vacant teaching posts in universities.
Research scholars feel relieved and think UGC has made their life easier. Hoshiyar Singh, who is a pursuing a PhD in physical sciences from Himachal Pradesh University, says, “Currently, junior research fellows have to devote time to teaching and the notification has made this official. However, the purpose of research should not be defeated by shifting focus on gaining teaching experience. We, as scholars, need funds to make significant contribution to research and the UGC and HRD ministry should take steps to make that happen.” Most higher education institutions seek at least two years’ teaching experience during faculty recruitment. However, scholars also say