New Delhi : To encourage women and the differently-abled to pursue research, UGC has relaxed norms allowing students eight years instead of present six to complete Ph.D and three years instead of two to complete M.Phil degrees.      In addition, women candidates will also be provided maternity, child care leave for up to 240 days in the entire duration of their M.Phil or Ph.D degrees.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani, who announced the relaxation of norms by UGC at a press conference here, said the government aims to boost the entry of women and the differently-abled in the fields of research.

Last week, Irani, while releasing the domestic rankings for Indian educational institutes, had announced that the government had asked the regulator to consider relaxing the norms for women and the differently-abled. Speaking at the conference where UGC chairman Ved Prakash and senior HRD officials were present, Irani said another key decision taken by the Commission pertains to autonomy about which “there has been a lot of debate” in the country.

In its meeting today, the UGC has decided that a college which will be awarded the highest grades in two consecutive cycles of six years and ensures the highest grade in the third cycle will be granted autonomous status if it can get a ‘no-objection certificate’ from the university concerned.

“This will grant them freedom to design curricula, prescribe syllabi, assess student performance and declare student results,” she said. Irani said there has also been “widespread debate on licence raj and vice grip of regulator on institutions of higher education”.

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