Yay! Good News! But can you spot the disadvantage lurking here? — R Voice

Yay! Good News! But can you spot the disadvantage lurking here?

Gayatri Ramachandran
Gayatri Ramachandran Member Posts: 172 ✭✭✭

The new UGC guidelines that is being implemented for PhD students in India is a welcome decision! Though it's been in vogue since 2017 the pandemic and lockdowns had left many guessing that this rule might undergo a reversal. UGC has clarified that no reversal is happening. The regulations have been welcomed by many. The reason behind that being -many doctoral students in India are held back by the supervisors for a 7-8 year term to gain publications, with no pay, which is simply called bonded labour! The student is forced to work at their bidding since "he has come this far to earn his doctorate so why not a couple of years more!"(make your own arrangements for finances and self-sustainance though!)

While mandating 6 years as compulsory for completion, the pointer 3.3 has a disadvantage hidden, out there for everyone to see. Can you see that as well?

In another perspective, the same pointer 3.3 also makes a very strange comparison (Myself and some peers did object personally, to the way it has been drafted).

I would love to hear how the regulations for duration is at other parts of the globe and your views on these regulations specially if these relate to yours as well @Sheethal G @Omololu FAGBADEBO @Karen Hall @Shruti Turner @Vivien Kretz @S Lee @Isurika Sevwandi @Suman Mundkur @Andrea Hayward @Kakoli Majumder @Jayashree Rajagopalan @chris leonard @Yufita Chinta @Soumi Paul


  • Karen Hall
    Karen Hall Member Posts: 14 ✭✭

    wonderful new trend thanks for sharing

  • Soumi Paul
    Soumi Paul Member Posts: 181 ✭✭✭✭

    I feel the minimum Ph.D. period should be two and a half, the maximum should be four, and extensions should be supported by appropriate personal or medical, or research-oriented reseasons. This much time generally seems enough in my experience if a candidate actively participates in learning accept-worthy manuscript writing, developing research methodologies, and learning new instrumentational tools. However, such active participation is possible when a candidate is less/moderately involved in the administrative works of PI and capable of quickly grasping any new lesson. In my experience, majorly researchers are either the victim of doing a Ph.D. under a worthless guide, and additional issues arrive when there are nasty juniors/seniors. Or lack the urge to complete quickly. Or their lab work is complete, but due to poor capacity for writing standard manuscripts (English language may or may not be the issue) are unable to finish their degree course. If institutions do not employ administrative people, then asking Ph.D. candidates to wrap their Ph.D. under stipulated timing is nothing but pushing them towards severe depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

    Communication is the key to thriving! 😊

  • Suman Mundkur
    Suman Mundkur Member Posts: 11 ✭✭

    3.3 These black and white underlined words above made no meaning, even in the year 2012, when I started my Ph.D. research. Being a woman, teaching full time at a Women's University, having put in two decades of service, gave no relaxation or no concession. There was no funding available to late-career researchers. There was no provision for paid or unpaid leave for Ph.D. The entire research was self-funded.

    Arthritis is not considered a disability but a disease. Pian in both knees made it difficult to walk, and climb, so data collection and traveling were the greatest challenges. The sick leave granted was for recovery from total knee replacement surgeries.

    The researcher is at the mercy of the Management for the implementation of this regulation.

  • Gayatri Ramachandran
    Gayatri Ramachandran Member Posts: 172 ✭✭✭

    How about duration of PhD at your place @Karen Hall ? Does the institution or university actively involve in counselling for mental health or resolve genuine issues at work that students take up with concerned authorities?

  • Gayatri Ramachandran
    Gayatri Ramachandran Member Posts: 172 ✭✭✭

    Your pointers exactly match my thoughts and experiences @Soumi Paul! Word to word! A PhD(in sciences) students' potential, strengths and zeal is all so watered down/wasted away by futile works from the administration, the PI, peers/seniors and a total lack of share-care-and- grow together attitude.

    If all this is tackled right at the grass root levels, I'm sure like you said, the duration need be only 4 years, maximum.

    In my own case as well as several peer PhD students and friends, the first 2 years are just lost and down-and-out in learning how the lab works, learning to deal with "senior-burden"(as I would call it since, in most cases, seniors turn out to be a bane rather than a boon, sadly 😔 ), learning to tackle the PI (look at the irony- its not tackling your objectives, rather focus is on the PI), grappling with admin and bureau"crazy". Phew! It is SO very draining and indeed depressing, like you said.

    Hopefully platforms like ouR Voice grow and flourish worldwide helping re-set the way the first 2 PhD life years work. I'm sure things are already moving slowly in the right direction. People are addressing the elephant in the room but we still have a long way to go. I genuinely hope that happens at-least by the time my daughter might end up as a doctoral student 😅 (something I genuinely do not know whether I should wish for her or not🤓).

  • Gayatri Ramachandran
    Gayatri Ramachandran Member Posts: 172 ✭✭✭

    I feel that pain and struggle you have been through @Suman Mundkur, intensely!🤕 Despite all that, you had successfully graduated, so lots of love and cheers to that!!🤗😍

    Whats more. You didn't stop at that. You are doing your bit to un-burden other researchers' lives which I'm sure is a great motivation for all of us!🤩 Thank you Dr. Suman for sharing a gist of your doctoral life and the thoughts relating to it!

    As for 3.3, one thing I (and many who read it amongst my friends and colleagues) didn't understand nor appreciate is- why all women should be given an additional 2 years, unless for maternity reasons, or for any other health or special case issues which is automatically applicable to all genders without question. Also, clubbing all women with physically limited persons doesn't give a good vibe as well. Not that physically limited people are genuinely limited (in fact they possess special capabilities that others are not gifted with!), rather, it makes it look like women genuinely need a "special" status while we actually don't. This subject is for an all together different discussion into which I do not wish to diagress but all I mean to say is that 3.3 is futile for "all women".

    The danger lurking here is - women PhD students alone would be subjected to greater tenure and labour by their respective PIs (not all but definitely many) while their male counterparts can leave in straight 6years. This clause gives supervisors the license to retain their female students longer which forecasts a gender bias, with male students getting more attention and funding since they have a deadline of 6 years.