According to a scholar from Utkal University, he along with his three friends had completed PhD course work in 2015. They did not get any guide because of teacher shortage in the university. Finally, they managed to get guides in 2018 and submitted their synopsis for PhD before the subject research committee (SRC).
“Though the SRC had cleared our research proposals in 2018, we are yet to get any green signal from the university for registration. What stops this university for this? Several students are waiting for PhD registration so that they can start their research work. If a scholar will wait for several years for registration, what research output we can expect from the university,” said a aggrieved scholar.
A senior professor of a state-run university said there is no proper timeline starting from PhD entrance test to getting degree. “If school and college education have proper timeline, we can streamline the the process for PhD also. But university administration does not follow this. Even nobody takes responsibility for this unending mess. Because of this we cannot get good ranks in NIRF or other rankings,” he added.
A senior administrator of a university said the guide issue will be solved after recruitment is over. “The PhD process is getting delayed due to lack of teachers (guides). The state government has given permission to universities for filling up of vacant teacher posts, but the recruitment could not start because of the pandemic situation. One or two universities had completed recruitment for some departments, but most of the universities will start the appointment after the situation gets better,” he added.
Recently published NIRF ranking showed that how state-run universities perform very poor in research. Only Utkal University has managed to get 96 rank in university category of NIRF ranking. Sambalpur University found their place in the rank band of 101-150, while Berhampur University, Berhampur, secured a place in the rank band of 151-200 in university category. Other state-run universities did not feature in the top 200 list.
There are five parameters in NIRF to give rating to an institution. All these parameters have 100 marks each. Research and professional practice (RP) is one of these parameters. Utkal University secured only 11.5 out of 100 in RP because of poor research output. “If it is the situation of a premier institution with 96 rank, what can we expect from other state universities without ranks,” said a professor.
Official sources said a university should set a target to provide 250 to 300 PhD degrees every year to get good ranking. But the universities hardly manage to award this coveted degrees to around 100 or a little more than a hundred scholars per year. “This shows the level of commitment and hardwork of the universities,” quipped an official from higher education department.
When asked, Asoka Kumar Das, vice chairman of Odisha State Higher Education Council, said it has been state government’s effort through the Odisha university research and innovation incentivisation plan (OURIIP) to create a concrete and revolutionary change in research ecosystem. “However, the issue of PhD students rest with the universities and only they can step on this matter,” he added.