Calicut University, one of the prime institutes of higher education in Kerala, is reeling under the side effects of a boom in the number of PhD enrolments in the past one year. A steep rise of 300% in the number of research applications has qualified the institute as one of the prime higher education destinations in the state since the past year. But it seems that now the university is facing the heat to hold on to its achievement.
A paltry monthly pay of Rs. 4750 as fellowships to the doctoral aspirants is proving to be an arduous task for the institute. The unexpected rise in the number of fellowship recipients has made a large hole in the university’s pocket as it has not been able to pay them any fellowship grants for the last eight months straight.
In 2011 the number of PhD students stood at a mere 236 individuals while now this number has shot up to over 800 which is indeed a highly unexpected number in terms of recent trends in higher education. A decisive factor contributing to the said rise in the influx of students has been the reduction of cut-off for eligibility in research programmes from 55% to 50%. This decision has been taunted and branded as controversial owing to its subsequent negative impact on the entire research curriculum.
As per Calicut University’s research fellowship scheme, each student who does not receive any grants from UGC or other governmental fellowships stands eligible to receive a monthly sum of Rs 4750 in the first year and Rs 6000 per month in the next two years. To counter the financial crunch, CU has unjustifiably delimited the number of research aspirants from each department to just one.
V Raju a research scholar feels, “The University has done a grave injustice to garner publicity by admitting a huge number of research students. They should have had the proper measures to tackle the crisis and assessed their own limitations before moving forth with their academic decisions. The delimitation only means that all students excluding a single one from each department must give their hopes of pursuing research and stay idle for an entire year.”
Director of Calicut University’s Directorate of Research, Sailas Benjamin said, “CU has only Rs. 10 million at its disposal to financially assist the research programmes of 50 students annually along with the payment of grants to MPhil students. The rise of PhD students in this year to 419 has increased the required budget to four times the possible amount.”
He also said that they university is intent upon solving the crisis in the most effective way so that neither the research processes nor the students’ futures are compromised. The university has capped the number of applicants to 50 while the pending applications are 91 in number. It is known that CU has earmarked an additional amount of 5.2 million rupees in order to fund the researches of the remaining applicants.
On the other hand, research aspirants are on the verge of sparking off a stir in protest of the current state of affairs in CU. They will be demanding for their fellowships in order to continue with the pursuance of their research projects.