33% Teaching Posts continues to be vacant. How does UGC Policy of clearing only 6% candidates in National Eligibility Test worsen the numbers?
By Kush Kalra, Advocate
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) for Indian Nationals. JRF is a fellowship program offered by Government to assist projects and do PhD simultaneously for those who have cleared NET exam with High Merit. The University Grants Commission (UGC) is a body constituted by virtue of the provisions contained in the University Grants Commission Act for co-ordination and determination of the standards in institutions for Higher Education. In exercising the powers conferred under the said statute, the UGC issued Regulations on minimum qualifications for appointment of teachers and other academic staff in Universities and Colleges. As per regulations, only candidates who qualify the NET are eligible for appointments as Assistant Professor in Universities and Colleges.
The UGC policy of declaring only 6% of those candidates who appear in both the papers of UGC NET 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.
NET meant ONLY for eligibility and NOT Competitive
Previously, UGC allowed total 15% of those candidates who appear the exam to be NET 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- NET which aims at checking the “ELIGIBILITY” only to be an Assistant Professor in India. This exam is not a competitive exam. Additionally, by merely clearing this exam does not ensure a post for Assistant Professor and does not result in any guaranteed job thereafter, unlike clearing Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Public Service Commission (PSC) or Judiciary Exams.
There is minimum required score prescribed by UGC NET Eligibility exam (40% for general candidates and 35 % for unreserved 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. This Exam is conducted twice a year and only 6% candidates are clear in one exam (total 12% candidates are cleared in a year as this UGC –NET exam happens twice a year). In the other hand, the Bar Council of India Exam (All India Bar Exam, AIBE) which is a 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.
Every once in 6 months lakhs of candidates appear for the exam making UGC and Government earn in crores as there are approximately 6 lakh candidates appeared in UGC NET 2018 and the fees for general category was Rs 800. This ensures that the Government is earning in crores in 6 months due to this exam. The number of candidates appeared for both papers in UGC NET, 2018 exam is 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.
Since it is challenging to be selected in the first attempt, most of the candidates 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 Bonafede teachers by clearing UGC-NET exam and can fill the long list pendency of teachers in Government and Private colleges and Universities across India.
Due to just 6% selection of candidates in UGC NET exam in all streams, presently there is dearth of sufficient number of candidates for appointment to the post of Assistant Professor in Universities and Colleges across India.
The analysis of NET result December 2018 exam, clearly shows that there is different cut off percentage for various streams and applying the same formula of clearing only 6% candidates in all streams out of those candidates who appear in both the papers and obtain merit as per result of UGC –NET is not justified for all streams, since different subjects have different cut off marks. Interestingly, the UGC bulletin for NET exam 2018 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.
In any situation by securing the minimum marks (40% for General and 35% for Reserved) 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.
Continuation of this policy 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 arbitrary and not satisfying the test of reasonableness as prescribed under article 14 of the constitution. Since most of the candidates appear twice for a eligibility exam, UGC can clear 50% of those candidates who appear 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. For those who pass the exam and entering the 6% list, the journey doesn’t stop there as after exam a person has to appear in interviews and crack the interviews and written exam by his/her skill to become an Assistant Professor in any University or College across India.
Again, it is reiterated that UGC-NET exam is conducted for determining the Eligibility for JRF and Eligibility for Assistant Professor and not a competitive exam in which a person should score a high merit to justify to be appointed as a teacher in India. By allowing only 6% candidates in 6 months, all streams to clear the UGC –NET exams UGC have made this a competitive exam, instead of eligibility test and further UGC and Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) are clueless about how this magic figure of 6% is being ascertained by them as Colleges and Universities in India are facing a crunch of faculties.
- Article 14 of The Constitution Of India 1949