The Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) is all set to introduce special fellowships for its top 100 PhD students, on par with those of various top bodies of higher education, like University Grants Commission (UGC) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The decision follows the Central government's recent announcement of the highest ever hike — 50 per cent — in fellowships for research scholars across the country.
There is a huge gap in fellowships between students who are pursuing PhD after National Eligibility Test and those who are pursuing it after clearing the PhD Entrance Test of the university. File pic
Research scholars who crack the National Eligibility Test (NET), receive a Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) which is going to increase from the current Rs 16,000 to Rs 25,000 per month, while the Senior Research Fellowship (SRF) will increase from current Rs 18,000 to Rs 28,000 per month, to complete PhDs according to a recent announcement made by Union Minister of State for Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh.
In SPPU there is a huge gap in fellowships between students who are pursuing PhD after NET and those who are pursuing it after clearing the PhD Entrance Test (PET) of the university. PET qualified students are currently receiving stipends in the range of just Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 per month, which is not even half of that of JRF or SRF awardees.
Dr W N Gade, vice-chancellor of SPPU, said, "The University has proposed a new fellowship programme under which as many as 100 PhD students will receive fellowships on par with UGC and CSIR. These fellowships will be for the period of at least four years to complete their PhD."
He added, "There will be a separate entrance test, through which 100 students will be selected based on their merit for this new fellowship. This new programme will be introduced shortly. The university will make financial provisions for it from its own funds."
Out of a total 4,800 research students in SPPU, nearly 400 are NET qualified. Some are not eligible for any fellowship as they are working somewhere. About 2,400 receive the varsity's stipend of Rs 5,000 to MPhil students and Rs 8,000 for PhD students after qualifying under PET.
"Currently the university is providing fellowships under the Rs 10 crore grant it had received from UGC. The new proposed fellowship programme ensures that at least top 100 students will receive fellowships on par with JRF and SRF. We are trying to increase the stipends of remaining students as well," Dr V B Gaikwad, Director of Board of College and University Development (BCUD) said.
Research students who are already receiving fellowships from UGC or CSIR are more than happy as their stipend is going to increase by 50 per cent. "I had completed my PhD in SPPU and now I am doing post-doctorate research. As per the new change now I will receive at least R36,000 per month against the earlier Rs 28,000.
I am quite satisfied with this new hike," Swapnil Gaikwad (33) research scholar associated with SPPU's Biotechnology department said. Another student said, "NET qualified JRF and SRF awardees are not facing any financial constraints. Varsity should pay attention to remaining students who are getting minimal amounts as stipend."