The University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided to do away with the non-NET fellowship scheme, which is provided to students undertaking research in different universities across the country. The decision has come as a major blow for student organizations that were fighting to increase the fellowship amount. Students say the scrapping of the scheme will push out poor sections out of higher education.
The scheme is meant for providing financial assistance to students undertaking MPhil and PhD courses. These students are offered financial assistance of Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000 per month respectively. MPhil students get financial assistance for 18 months, while PhD students for 4 years, besides a contingency grant per year to help them carry out their research.
According to UGC officials, the fellowship will not be available to students enrolling from the new academic year. The decision to discontinue the scheme was taken in a UGC meeting on October 7. However, the students who are already getting non-NET fellowship will continue to do so as per the existing guidelines.
The Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF) condemned the decision in strong words and burnt an effigy of the UGC chairman in the JNU campus. Since, these fellowships have been the only source of financial support for research students; this decision is undeniably one of the biggest anti-student moves by the UGC.
More demonstrations and similar protests have been planned by major student organizations, both within campuses and outside the UGC office in the coming days.