PhD topics: HRD ministry distances itself

PhD topics: HRD ministry distances itself

As a row erupted over the Central University of Kerala restricting the choice of research topics to those of “national priorities” only, the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry on Monday distanced itself from the issue.

In a clarification, the ministry said it has not issued any directive to the central university to restrict the choice of research subjects. The ministry, however, remained silent on whether it would take up the issue with the central university whose decision was seen in academic circles as "curtailing of freedom in research."

The Central University of Kerala, which comes under the jurisdiction of the HRD ministry, recently decided that PhD scholars to be enrolled into the varsity would have the option of choosing topics of only “national priorities” for research.

The university administration issued a circular notifying the decision taken by Vice Chancellor G Gopa Kumar to “discourage research in irrelevant areas.”

“When fellows are being admitted for the PhDs, the topics for the thesis should be in accordance with the national priorities. Allotting privilege topics to the PhD students should be dispensed with,” the circular issued by the university registrar noted.

The university administration also directed the heads of the departments to convene meetings of faculties to prepare a shelf of projects to be taken for research study “pertaining to the subject considering national priorities.” “The student can opt from the shelf of project,” it said.

The vice-chancellor's move was “in accordance with the decisions” taken at a meeting of the vice-chancellors held at the HRD ministry on December 15, 2018, the university registrar noted in the circular issued to heads of all departments on March 13.

“The Ministry of HRD has not issued any directive to restrict choice of subjects for research since the (Union) government believes in the principle of freedom in research,” the ministry, however, said in its clarification.

Last year, there was a meeting of the vice-chancellors of 11 central universities which were “lacking in research.”

“In the said meeting, they presented a road map to improve research and also discussed the issue of more research on issues relating to national priorities. The minutes of the meeting were recorded,” the HRD ministry added.

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