DIY Ph D’s

P. Sreekumar of the Department of Dravidian & Computational Linguistics at the Dravidian University in Kuppam, AP, sent out an anguished email on the University Grants Commission (UGC) that has lifted a two-year ban on distance M Phil and Ph D courses.

The move comes after widespread protests by various universities. Many Open Learning Universities like IGNOU were protesting the ban on the ground that their respective laws, passed by Parliament or legislatures, allowed them to offer such courses.

Speaking on the development, IGNOU vice-chancellor Rajasekharan Pillai said, “We will follow the rules but our regulations are already stricter than those of the UGC.”
UGC held a meeting on the issue last month, deciding to lift the ban. “An open university may be permitted to conduct MPhil/PhD programmes through distant education mode subject to condition that it does so strictly as per the provisions of the UGC Regulations,” said the minutes of the meeting.

Although, UGC has lifted the ban but it has put another condition for Phd — the principal guide should be from the open university. The UGC had clamped the bar by notifying a rule — the Minimum Standards and Procedure for Awards of MPhil/PhD Degree Regulation — in 2009 saying research courses in the distant mode were of poor quality.

The regulations had put a question mark on the future of nearly 10,000 students pursuing such courses across the country.“There should not be any blanket ban on MPhil or PhD in distance mode. If institutions meet the required quality parameters, they should be allowed to offer such courses,” said academic M. Madhava Menon, who has been asked by the HRD ministry to draft a policy on distance education. He said he would submit his report next month.

Inadequate infrastructure of many open universities is also a concern for carrying out research work. A UGC official said the commission’s regulations were silent on the facilities, and a panel headed by academic S. P. Thyagrajan had been set up to suggest the requirements. “We will meet on September 15 to lay the guidelines,” Thyagrajan said.

Well, its one step from here to so-called Universities like those Internet Academies that offer you a Ph D for $725. As one of these advertises,  In order to get your desired degree, you can start now by getting registered with W**d University. Once you get registered, your email address will become your log-in id for future use and you’ll always provide the same password as you are doing at the time of registration. This information will allow you to return anytime and continue with the process of getting your desired degree from W**d University.

We wish you good luck and thank you for choosing W**d University to start your journey towards success.

I believe the similar facilities are offered in various bucket shops in Ameerpet. You can easily purchase “original” theses in any subject of your choice, and at any level you desire… from the M A/ M Tech upwards, to the D. Phil. And submit them to any UGC University of your choice.


3 thoughts on “DIY Ph D’s

  1. Interesting post, from which several thoughts arise.

    The Popper approach is to not try to legislate just how a thought is to be validly articulate, but to introduce rigour at the stage of evaluating the thought. In this case, that approach would involve letting institutions that make quality claims and give degrees go ahead and give those degrees, but to have a really performing NAAC whose ratings are credible and can be used in the market. On that scenario, after NAAC has done a full round of evaluating across the country, job ads would say ‘only degrees from NAAC-accredited institutions will count as acceptable for the purposes of screening’, and UGC would stop policing institutions, reducing its work load.

    It follows from such an approach that the distinction between distance education and proximate education should not be considered relevant for evaluators. My experience as a research supervisor does not suggest that on-campus research scholars typically behave in observably different ways from distance education PhD awardees, I’m afraid. Many research scholars see their supervisors or other academics extremely rarely. In contrast, distance education PhD candidates who take their work seriously (and I know some personally) put in the corresponding extra effort to keep in touch with their supervisors.

    In favour of this line of thought, I’d like to cite Amrik Singh; writing in EPW in the 90s (the offprint can be fished out, if need be) he argued that it was a scandal for independent India to continue to have colleges dependent on, “affiliated to”, universities. If a college was a site of university level education, he proposed, it should be willing to stand up and be counted. This would mean seeking autonomous university status with all that that decision brings in its wake. He realized that this would mean as huge an operation as achieving universal literacy (the comparison is mine, not his), but he felt we should brace ourselves for the hard work and do the job over several years, upgrading staff and facilities for this purpose,

    One may wonder if my quoting Amrik Singh is like the devil quoting the scriptures; after all, he has often attacked distance education. However, his point in those polemical pieces has consistently been that you need to put proper infrastructure and staff in place if you wish to award credible degrees, and that whenever an institution in India starts a distance education programme you standardly find that it views this activity as a money-spinning venture. And _my_ point is that UGC plus legislation is not going to deliver the upgrading of staff and infrastructure that you are asking for. You want to introduce rigour at the level of evaluation, not production. I have no issue with Amrik Singh’s insisting on standards. I am contesting the widespread belief that bad practices can be nipped in the bud.

    Our nation believes in starting things with great fanfare — and in claiming to apply rigorous standards at that moment — and also believes in quietly neglecting continuation or maintenance issues. I am arguing against that style of functioning.

    Of course NAAC cannot be counted on to do perfect work. The market will have to do its own further weeding out. Otherwise there would be no need for selection processes at all. Furthermore, I’d love to see an initiative by some ‘Citizens Concerned with Quality’ group that spends its own time and money reevaluating what NAAC has evaluated, discovering anomalies, broadcasting them, and keeping NAAC on its toes. Fortunately, there are people with the requisite capabilities, time and money in our society to run such ventures; I am merely trying to needle them into action. Could it be that I am saying this in the wrong forum? I think not…



    • Credibility of NAAC is at stake.

      Can you cite three reasons or incentives that can give them some independence?

      Apparently their report must be accepted by the VC

      All evaluation must be done anonymously based on reliable documents.

      PS: I have never failed a student in viva. However I know several …

  2. Why go to so much trouble? At Malakpet I am told you can get any degree – perhaps you would like a degree from Harvard Law School ?
    But there are distance education and distance education—– a certain university has its contact centres where the supervisor offers a thesis for certain sum for an MPhil degree. But IGNOU on the other hand seems much better. I had started a diploma course at the IGNOU where the assignments were corrected diligently with very valid comments on each paragraph I had written. This compares very very favourably with the abysmal corrections done at the university spot valuation centres- where sometimes a sociology lecturer may not notice he has got a zoology paper by mistake ( a friend swears this actually happened)
    I have seen people finish correcting two whole papers by the time I went through one answer. Students who usually score 90% sometimes get 20% marks and students who can’t write one good answer and understand very little, sometimes score 90%.
    I have received emails requesting me to guide PhD theses when no one knows my qualifications or area of specialisation.

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