India’s higher education sector regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) is set to launch a gamut of schemes to encourage scholars – ranging from women experts to skilled faculty members – to engage in cutting-edge research so that Indian institutions surge ahead in the field of knowledge creation.
In an exclusive interaction with TOI, UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar said that five new schemes were in the works and would be announced soon.
Kumar, former vice-chancellor of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was asked what steps the commission planned to strengthen the research that is carried out at Indian varsities.
In addition to the teaching-learning processes, there is a greater need to strengthen the research ecosystem in universities and colleges. We know we have some outstanding institutes such as IITs and some of the central universities, which sit at the top of the pyramid. But at the bottom of the pyramid, that is where millions of students and lakhs of teachers are, we need to strengthen,
M Jagadesh Kumar said
The UGC was planning a number of measures to boost research, he said.
Five new schemes
“In another week or two weeks, we will be announcing five major schemes to strengthen the research ecosystem in the universities,” the UGC chairman said.
He added that one of them would be the single girl child fellowships. This means that if the research scholar is a single girl child in the family, they can get fellowships under this category for doing research, he added.
“And then we are introducing the post-doctoral research fellowships in the universities across the country. And we are also going to give some seed funding to the newly recruited faculty members in the universities,” Kumar said.
He added that there is another scheme that is going to come for the mid-career faculty members.
“They have to be below 50 years and we will fund them to do original research. And then you also have a lot of faculty members who might have retired but they’re still very active. So we are going to introduce a research scheme to fund such superannuated faculty also so that they can work for some more time in the universities, focus on research, focus on mentoring, the young faculty,” the UGC chairperson said.
Many of these things are going to be rolled out in another couple of weeks, Kumar added.
Under the Narendra Modi government, strengthening the research eco-system has been a key aim of the education ministry.
On research not often leading to enough patents being filed, the UGC chairman said efforts were being made in this direction.
If you just do the research and publish in journals, it’s not going to have much impact. And we need to convert that research into some kind of prototype and the end product so that it can meet the challenges of this society. And that’s the reason why recently we have come up with the guidelines for all the universities to set up research and development cells. You will be surprised to know that many universities do not have the R&D cells on their campuses,He Said.
The objective of the R&D cell is to provide information to the faculty members on the opportunities for sponsored research funding, both within India and also globally, many organizations do the funding for research.
Kumar said the bureaucratic processes within the university system also have to be simplified.
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