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Govt to tweak MPhil & PhD admission rules, now exam will hold more weight than interview

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Under current rules, the exam for admission to MPhil and PhD courses in central universities only serves as a qualifying role for the interview stage.

New Delhi: Admissions to MPhil and PhD courses in central universities will no longer be at the mercy of the interview panel, with the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry set to tweak a 2016 University Grants Commission (UGC) rule.

The government will bring a second amendment to the ‘Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of MPhil/PhD Degrees Regulations 2018’, under which the entrance exam score will carry 70 per cent weight and the interview just 30 per cent.

Currently, the written test just qualifies one for the interview, with the latter given 100 per cent weight to decide a student’s selection for MPhil and PhD courses.

Sources said HRD minister Prakash Javadekar had approved the amendment and it is likely to be issued this week.

“There will now be a weightage of 70 per cent for the written test, and 30 per cent to the performance in the interview/viva-voce,” a senior ministry official said, “All the universities will be informed about it.”

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Implemented in 2017 by all central universities, including Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, the 2016 UGC regulation made it mandatory for students to score at least 50 per cent marks in entrance exams to qualify for MPhil and PhD interviews.

A number of students had protested against the move, saying it was discriminatory and subjective.

“Many students, especially from rural areas, alleged that despite a good score in the test, they were often rejected at the interview stage because they did not possess good communication skills,” the senior official said.

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In a meeting on 24 May, the UGC had approved the use of exam scores as a yardstick and eased the eligibility criteria for SC/ST/OBC (non-creamy layer), shaving 5 per cent off the qualifying test score. However, the notification announcing the first amendment did not mention the 70-30 per cent criteria.

According to sources, there is a strong political undercurrent to the move, especially with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections months away. The sources said the HRD ministry wanted to ensure there were no student protests on such issues.

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