Home > Education, Science and society, What were they thinking? > UGC Faculty recharge programme: much ado about nothing

UGC Faculty recharge programme: much ado about nothing

I was going to title this post `What were they thinking?’ but then decided against that because I could use that title so often that it should really be a category or a tag.

The UGC has come out with a programme called the Faculty Recharge Programme, which was advertised in national newspapers yesterday, and has appeared on a dedicated website here. They plan to appoint assistant professors, associate professors, and full professors in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology and `Engineering and Earth Sciences’. The new appointees are expected to be at the forefront of research, and be willing to teach six hours a week — presumably at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. The expressed hope is that this will raise the level of scientific research at the universities with the side effect of attracting students to a career of research.

In order to attract `talent, the new appointees are promised salary at par with the central universities no matter where they are. But they can be posted at any university in the country, although they do say that the location of the new faculty will be through `harmonization of their own preference, response of the host Institution and availability of infrastructure’.

On the face of it, this sounds like the seed of a new IES — Indian Educational Service, which was originally instituted during British rule (J.C. Bose, P.C.Ray and P.C.Mahalanobis had been members), but is this really going to attract people?

What I find disturbing is the sentence Initial appointments at each level shall be for a period of 5 years, extendible through peer evaluation by successive 5-year terms. This is understandable for Assistant Professors, who are at the beginning of their careers, but Associate Professors and Professors are going to be people who are required to have done a reasonable amount of research and publish regularly, so these people already hold jobs at research institutions or at teaching institutions with some freedom to do research. But those jobs are permanent jobs, not five year positions. And they are also likely to be of an age where stability is important. They are likely to have families, who are settled down, or settling down, working, going to school, wherever they are. So why will they up everything and (very likely) go to a different part of the country, in a job which,   following a peer review, [...] may be terminated, extended or elevated to the next higher level. Associate professors have a chance of being `elevated’ to the next higher level, but professors do not have even that. So why would anyone sensible, anyone who is doing some research and some teaching, be interested in a Professor’s position?

Any of the research laboratories pay allowances etc at the same rates as the central universities, and at the levels corresponding to associate professor and professor, pretty much the same salary. People already at universities, even if they are not central universities, get the same salaries, possibly with some lower allowances. But universities give their faculty time to do research, and the stability of a permanent job. There is no real incentive for any of these people to move to a five-year position, which is very likely in a different part of the country.

Then the only people who will apply for these positions are those in colleges where they are unable to do good research, or people in post-doc positions. While there are admittedly some people in colleges who could do better research at universities than what they are doing now, such people are not many in number. And even then, would they opt for the instability of a five-year position, unless they are at the very beginning of their career?

If they really want good people to join, they should remove the 5 year stipulation, at least from the higher positions. Otherwise this service will be filled with only those who cannot get a permanent university/research institute position.

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  1. Jayant M.
    July 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm | #1

    Here is the response I got when I asked what the status of my application was. A typically bureaucratic response without even a name at the bottom. I already have many doubts about the process. I’m not much worried about the 5 year issue but am more concerned about the response in the universities and whether they will welcome outsiders. The tone of the response I got shows that UGC is likely not to be very supportive.

    ********************************

    The status of the applications will be shown on the website in due course

    National Coordinator
    UGC-FRP

  2. Manu Thomas
    August 8, 2011 at 4:34 am | #2

    does anybody know the expected month of initiation of this programme?

    • Hutom
      August 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm | #3

      I have not seen anything — and surprisingly (?) I haven’t heard any senior person talking about this programme either. I know that the idea of a rebirth of the Indian Education Service is strongly supported by R.Chidambaram, the erstwhile head of India’s nuclear programme. But I met a few senior academicians recently around India, and no one wanted to talk about this programme. As if those who matter have already decided that it is not going to amount to much.

  3. Manu Thomas
    August 10, 2011 at 6:15 am | #4

    I came to know that its included in the 11th five year plan. if so it should be implemented this year itself . am i right?

  4. Sapna
    August 16, 2011 at 5:39 am | #5

    A good initiative from UGC. But I would like to know if the selcted candidates be able to join this year itself?

    • Hutom
      August 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm | #6

      As an initiative it is not bad. But it doesn’t seem to be well thought-out, as I mentioned. The UGC doesn’t say anything about how long the `panel’ will remain valid, or what the procedure for absorption is. Will the candidates be able to apply without advertisement, as in a forced appliccation? Can they apply on any open advertisement, listing UGC selection as a `qualification’? The information from the UGC is extremely hazy about all this.

  5. Saira
    September 8, 2011 at 5:33 am | #7

    I have registered for UGC-FRP before June 30th. The next cut off date is said to be September 30th. But till date there isn’t any information about the screening of applications / shortlisted candidates is available from the website. Will the list of selected candidates be available before the next cut off date i.e. Sep 30th?

  6. Hutom
    October 9, 2011 at 5:57 am | #8

    After reading the latest comment on this thread, I went to the UGC-FRP website. The site seems to be an exercise in withholding information. One needs to register and log in before even learning about what positions are available or where. Since I have not registered, I could not check if in fact any information available on which universities have asked for faculty through this program. From the comments, it would seem that those who have registered cannot get any information either. It is not clear if anyone has been called for an interview, or if a list of candidates to be called has been drawn up.

    None of this surprises me, of course. This way of (mis)handling things is typical of Indian bureaucracy, which has been primarily responsible for stifling all kinds of innovation and growth, not least in education.

  7. shanker
    January 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm | #9

    BOTANY LECTURER

    • Hutom
      February 3, 2012 at 2:16 am | #10

      Did you get an appointment?

  8. JM
    February 25, 2012 at 9:04 am | #11

    Updated Message for Candidates under UGC-FRP

    Thank you for your queries regarding progress under FRP. We are currently in the midst of process of faculty selection which, on account of a large number of applications received, is taking time to be completed. We shall announce on the Programme website as soon as we have information to share with you. Please be patient, and thank you again.
    National Coordinator

    • savita
      March 19, 2012 at 4:28 am | #12

      its is already mid march. This should have been ideally the third round selection date. But!!!!! still no news …………… even for the first batch of selection

  9. PB
    April 3, 2012 at 6:50 am | #13

    Well still the situation not clear. Yes the UGC FRP as the title says is “much ado about nothing”

  10. Pratima
    April 20, 2012 at 6:22 am | #14

    did anybody get the call letter for interview against the application for UGC FRP 2011

  11. whatever
    May 30, 2012 at 7:29 am | #15

    did any one receive any call letters from UGC FRP

  12. RAGHAV
    July 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm | #16

    I too completely agree with few of the above mentioned concerns .The ideas are good but implementation and transparent policies of incumbent of posts are big issues and alarming part is after u apply there is no time frame.. no responses.. and no information….of your updates on application “they just give a tag line in process may be 2-3 years u decide is what they mean…. “

  13. neha
    August 16, 2012 at 7:10 am | #17

    Updated Message for Candidates under UGC-FRP
    Thank you for your queries regarding progress under FRP. We are currently in the midst of process of faculty selection which, on account of a large number of applications received, is taking time to be completed. We shall announce on the Programme website as soon as we have information to share with you. Please be patient, and thank you again.
    National Coordinator

  14. MD
    September 6, 2012 at 10:25 pm | #18

    Interviews (personal and online) are being conducted (for Biology) since last week.

  15. MD
    September 11, 2012 at 2:49 am | #19

    Interviews (personal and online) are really being conducted since last few weeks. Hope we hear something soon

  16. indian
    September 12, 2012 at 7:04 am | #20

    I came to know about the recent interview process of my friend for UGC-FRP. Sadly, this programme also showed that this is yet another programme and there is going to be no improvement in the Indian science.

    The very fundamental shocking thing is that there is no technical presentation as a part of the interview. For a national level faculty selection (that too for a research oriented scheme), it is surprising that the interview is purely based on personal interview that lasts for nearly 15 mins. The questions asked in the interview also were so vexatious. In the interview, the so called apex level committee asks a candidate to describe about one’s own best work for a few minutes. After 2 or 3 mins, they start to ask the candidates about their future work plan. If at all, any relevance is shown with respect to the candidate’s past research area, then immediately the question arises that what new science you are bringing in. If a person says something new, then the question arises that you don’t have experience in this field and how can you succeed. This is an extremely dangerous approach, because research does not work that way. First of all, based on 2-3 mins of briefing about one’s research area (that too not by means of a presentation), how the committee can really evaluate about the research quality of a person? Secondly, without properly seeing through the future work proposal, how the committee can easily judge that one too?

    Then comes a round, where the candidate was questioned a lot from the text books. Mere principles are not sufficient. The candidates should answer exactly what the committee member has in his/her mind. It is possible for anyone to ask a specific text book question, which one is familiar with. Its not necessary that the candidate should exactly know that. Many of the research-based candidates, who have lost text book touch for years face difficulty in this. Does that mean they are not qualified? When the committee members have started teaching, did they know everything at that time? Or, even now, apart from their specialized area, can they answer for any text book question from other area? In my understanding, the candidates who have been shortlisted for the interview should have an established track record. Otherwise, UGC would not have certainly shortlisted them for the interview from 1000s of candidates. But then, what the apex committee thinks of it? Do they think that the candidates have been shortlisted based on any wrong ideology? Should the candidates take all the efforts to go there and attend the interview just to get humiliated? Even if the committee feels a candidate would not fit for this position, they should still treat the candidate with dignity. The current methodology of interview is rather downgrading people. Treating with dignity implies that the candidate should be given a fair platform such as a technical presentation to showcase one’s own background and research accomplishments. If this is a programme to improve the research standard in Universities, then the selection criteria should be made specifically for that.

    My concern is not to pin point/criticize on any individual. The thing which bothers me the most is that, even at the higher education level, the standard is too low. Initially I thought that this is a wonderful scheme to boost the research standards in Indian Universities. But the current methodology adapted for the interview shows that this is going to be yet another programme on paper and nothing good is going to happen.

    May GOD save India!

    • Hutom
      November 22, 2012 at 12:29 am | #21

      It is actually quite typical of interviews at Indian universities that no presentation was asked for, and the candidates were asked to describe their work in a few minutes, and that they they were cut off after a couple of minutes. Interviews at universities seem to have a lot of questions at the undergraduate level. This is understandable to some extent, as the main duty of the appointed faculty would be to teach. However since the candidates have been chosen apparently on the basis of their research, the questions should be balanced between teaching and research. Perhaps a discussion on the research could naturally lead to questions at the lower level.
      But I agree that it is not possible to do justice to any candidate for positions like these in a few minutes, and there should have been a presentation. Presentations are also relevant to the position of a teacher, since a faculty will have to stand in front of a class and explain something for an hour. Then again, almost all university interviews in India seem to ignore presentations.
      Does anyone know who were the members of the interview committees?

      • kk
        November 23, 2012 at 4:20 am | #22

        They took my interview via skype on august. but no reply yet. heard that only jugaad people have got reply and no chance if you have no links. they were asking chemistry questions to persons working in immunology. it is just a formality. they will first fill their candidates. people who took my interview were from organic chemistry background.

      • Hutom
        December 18, 2012 at 12:10 am | #23

        Please mention specific people only if you have something specific to say about them, not just vague accusations …

  17. true
  18. Saom
    September 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm | #25

    Any news from UGC FRP? My application is dated Dec 2011 in Biology stream.

    • False
      December 22, 2012 at 7:33 am | #26

      does anybody know the criteria being followed for interview selection? No updates on websites?

    • False
      January 5, 2013 at 8:26 am | #27

      when i go to my status window it is displaying the form only. Has anybody received status update on website

  19. April 26, 2013 at 7:42 am | #28

    results of the selected candidates are announced. However these selected candidates have received no further information on the actions to be taken, neither any information from their end on the status or processing!! very pathetic

  20. academic talent
    July 3, 2013 at 4:39 am | #29

    yes selection is done, Appointment letters are also sent to the selected candidates, and the university which agreed to accept the candidate, are also informed parallely, while three months time is given to the candidates to send in their acceptance letter.

  21. November 3, 2013 at 10:41 pm | #30

    Just saw ame of selelcted people in list very very frustating I checked their papers only the people with contact with big people got award and most of them are dominated by north indians. Selection comittee should justify on which merit basis they select people. Also ugc should display list of all candidate applied and their ranking according to commitee view.

    Please at least dont do politics at this level.

  1. December 3, 2011 at 7:42 am | #1

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