Ever since the onset of the pandemic, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has been furthering the thesis submission deadline for MPhil and PhD students. While the Commission claims that this is a move adopted to help students in their PhD and MPhil courses and take stress off of their shoulders, scholars and researchers claim otherwise.
Indian National Young Academy of Sciences (INYAS) in its recent report claims that major concerns that are lingering in the minds of research scholars include discontinuity of the lab works, fellowship disruption, and pending experimental work for the manuscripts. For the longest duration of time, researchers did not have access to labs or limited access due to the pandemic.
Experiments which are crucial to address all the objectives of their thesis or the revisions asked by the reviewers have all been running late. Few researchers have also submitted thesis without completion of their work. Majority of the students are in the opinion that pandemic affected their post-PhD plans, according to the report.
While extensions can be of help, a vast majority of research scholars believe that its in fact the fund crunch which has caused the most problems for researchers with 42.8 percent researchers claiming that fund crunch as the key issue. Among those who received funds, 14.6 per cent got funds partially, and 28.2 per cent claimed they did not receive funds at all during the pandemic, as per the report.
Vickey, a research scholar at IIT-Delhi, told News18.com that biggest loss for research scholars was that of lack of exposure. “Scholars used to travel to other countries for international conferences and research before covid/pandemic. Interaction with foreign researchers in the same subject was extremely beneficial to research. Because of the pandemic, that part is absent. I’m hoping that will happen shortly."
Even as the pandemic caused a delay resulting in a lengthier time for a researcher to earn his or her PhD, the scholars are getting funds or fellowships for five years tenure, as they were previously. However, following the pandemic, the government should consider extending the fellowship. That will undoubtedly assist scholars in conducting research without stress, he said.
As the current deadline, the Universities and higher educational institutions can give another extension of up to six months beyond 30 June for M.Phil or Ph.D thesis submission on case-to-case basis after reviewing a student’s work by the Research Advisory Committee and on recommendation of the supervisor and head of department.
The first extension was granted in June, and extended further every six months due to prevailing the COVID-19 situation.