New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC), the apex body for higher education in India, has announced that the MPhil degree is no longer a valid qualification and has asked students and universities to refrain from pursuing or offering it. The decision was taken as part of the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedures for Award of PhD Degree) Regulations, 2022, which were notified in the Gazette of India on November 7, 2022. The regulations aim to streamline and standardise the doctoral programmes in the country and to ensure quality and rigour in research.
According to the Regulation No. 14 of the UGC Regulations, 2022, “Higher Educational Institutions shall not offer M.Phil. program”. The MPhil, or Master of Philosophy, was a one-year or two-year postgraduate research degree that served as a bridge between the master’s and the doctoral degrees. It was often considered a prerequisite for admission to a PhD programme in many disciplines. However, the UGC has now abolished the MPhil degree, making the PhD programme more comprehensive and inclusive.
The UGC has also warned students and universities of the consequences of violating the regulations. It has said that it has come to its notice that some universities are still inviting fresh applications for the MPhil programme, despite the clear instructions to stop admissions for the 2023-24 academic year. The UGC has said that such universities are misleading the students and are violating the norms. It has advised the students to not take admission to the MPhil programme as it will not be recognised by the UGC or any other statutory body. The UGC has also said that it will take appropriate action against the erring universities and will publish their names on its website after December 31, 2023.
The UGC has also issued another directive to the universities, asking them to appoint ombudspersons by the same deadline. The ombudspersons are independent authorities who will redress the grievances of the students fairly and transparently. The UGC has said that this is by the UGC (Redressal of Grievances of Students) Regulations, 2023, published in the Gazette of India on April 11, 2023. The regulations mandate that every university should have an ombudsperson who will deal with the students’ complaints related to admission, evaluation, fees, discrimination, harassment, etc. The UGC has expressed its dissatisfaction over the non-compliance of some universities with this regulation and has said that the matter is being viewed seriously. The UGC has urged the universities to appoint an ombudsperson within 30 days of the notification and to submit a compliance report to the UGC. The UGC has also said that it will monitor the functioning of the ombudspersons and will take necessary steps to ensure their effectiveness.