The murmurs are growing louder -- not everyone is happy with the new entrance examination introduced by Delhi University for M.Phil and Ph.D candidates.
It appears that the academicians are divided over the new format in which objective questions have replaced subjective questions, to be followed by an interview. Moreover, the students are a tad wary of the online form which will require a candidate to submit his research proposal.
In a series of meetings conducted from March 17 onwards by the 20-member Standing Committee of the Academic Council of Delhi University, it was decided that the M.Phil entrance examination will eliminate subjective questions. The entrance preliminary step will now involve only objective questions. A student will be called in for the interview only if he clears the first step.
A student, on condition of anonymity, told IANS that the new process has been introduced hastily. Some of them also complained that the common entrance form for M.Phil and Ph.D has added to the confusion.
A candidate in Delhi University has to fill a form online along with a 500-word proposal for his M.Phil research topic, whereas a Ph.D candidate has to submit the form with a 2,500-word research proposal. However, the word limit for M.Phil candidates is not mandatory.
According to sources, the departmental heads of the courses of Delhi University were not consulted on this decision during the initial meetings. The Standing Committee -- comprising 17 Deans of various faculties in the university, two DU principals and an elected member of the Academic Council -- took this decision. The HoDs were later informed about the decision by the end of March.
However, several HoDs and Standing Committee members remain optimistic.
Speaking to IANS, Standing Committee Chairman Professor J.P Dubey said: "Some of the departments such as Social Work and History were finding it difficult to implement. But these issues can be taken care of once the students clear the exam".
"Each and every department has been allowed to conduct M.Phil and Ph.D entrance exam just the way they have been doing. Only the preliminary level has been changed. No department is being deprived of their rights," he added.
Professor Christel, head of the English department of the university, said: "I first heard the announcement towards the end of March. I shared it with my colleagues at the first departmental meeting we held after that. I don't serve on the university committee that took this decision. I thought it was essential to let our department colleagues know; so I did that as soon as I could".
"I'm glad that reading (and inferential reading, especially) is going to be tested and that subjectivity is going to be reduced. Research and writing potential will be gauged this time through the proposal that will be tested at the interview. The proposal and the interview continue to be integral to our selection process," she added.
Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) President Professor Nandita Narain said that the new decision is going to be counter-productive.
For the first time the university will be conducting the entrance examination is six different cities. "The intention of conducting outstation entrance by DU is very good. But you have to take time on such a decision and work it out. It needs consultation with the teachers... you just can't bypass it. This has been done in a ham-handed way," she said.
"They could have taken a year to sort it out; they could have taken everyone (HoDs, teachers) on board. This is going to destroy the departments," Narain told IANS.
Some of the professors slammed the decision, saying that the new process is short-sighted and is an attempt to dumb down the university.
Expressing apprehension, Professor Prasanta said: "The decision to only have MCQs for the entrance of M.Phil is disappointing. I don't know if this works for Science or some other course, but it certainly doesn't work for English literature. I am afraid that we will not get the best students."
He also said the teachers were not involved in the decision-making process and were simply informed about the decisions barely two months before the M.Phil entrance exam.
However, Professor Dubey said that a series of meetings with all the principals and HoDs of the respective colleges under Delhi University were conducted from March 17 to April 24 to discuss the issues on the entrance exam.
The new selection process will be reviewed by the committee, if required.
The University Grants Commission and CSIR conduct an interim test for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF). Those who qualify this test are allowed to appear for the interview directly for M.Phil and Ph.D.
"JRF candidates are granted a good amount of fellowships. Other students who have not applied or qualified need to be tested," Dubey said.
(Archana Rao can be contacted at email@example.com)
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