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IITs, NITs, IISc tell Modi govt to extend PhD scholars’ stipend for another year due to Covid

The institutions made the request to Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal during a virtual meeting Thursday. The fellowship money to research scholars is given for a fixed period of 5 yrs.

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New Delhi: Technical institutions including Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and others want the Narendra Modi government to make changes in the fellowship policy for PhD scholars in view of the pandemic, ThePrint has learnt.

During a virtual meeting with Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Thursday, the institutions made a request to the government to extend the monthly stipend money to PhD scholars for another year because they could not finish their research due to Covid-related disruptions for more than a year now, sources said.

The fellowship money to research scholars is given for a fixed period of five years. It varies from Rs 31,000 to Rs 35,000 per month in different institutions.

Heads of all IITs, NITs, International Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), International Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) and the IISc were present at the meeting, and they urged the government to give additional fellowship money to the final year scholars who have already finished five years but had to extend their research duration because of the disruptions due to Covid, the sources said.

With educational institutions in most states remaining closed until the end of 2020 due to Covid-19, access to labs and other resources for research scholars was disrupted. Keeping the situation in mind, the government already extended the deadline for submission of theses by PhD and M.Phil scholars. However, there had been no discussion so far about extending the period for fellowship payment.

While some of the institutions confirmed to ThePrint that the matter was discussed at the meeting, ThePrint reached the ministry Thursday though a text message for an official comment on the meeting and other details, but did not get a reply. This report will be updated when a response is received.

Also read: When will new academic session at colleges & universities begin? No word yet from UGC, govt

‘Many scholars have been forced to leave PhD’

At least three heads of institutions told ThePrint that the ministry assured them of action after the matter was discussed at the meeting. The institutions were asked to submit a proposal in this regard, they said.

“The issue of problems being faced by research scholars was discussed in the meeting. Institutes told the ministry that many scholars have been forced to leave their PhD without finishing it because after they complete five years, they stop getting the stipend,” said the director of an institute who attended the meeting.

Another director said: “This is more pronounced this year because of Covid, but in normal times also, there are scholars who have had to leave their research mid-way because of financial strains. These things are not good for the research environment in the country.”

A senior ministry official, who did not wish to be named, also confirmed that the matter was discussed at the meeting, but refused to share further information.

Also read: IIT-Gandhinagar shows the way, sets up Covid care centre on campus, shares how-to guide

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