Research papers, dissertations or theses by Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) students of the University of Mumbai (MU) for the academic year 2020 have not been uploaded on the Shodhganga website. The number of PhD students which is equivalent to the number of final year research theses submitted has reduced from 413 in 2019 to 152 in 2020 while, the number of MPhil students has reduced from 350 in 2019 to 60 in 2020.
The research papers completed in 2020 have not been uploaded on the Shodhganga website which is a platform for research students to deposit their PhD theses and make it available to the entire scholarly community with open access. Every year, submission of theses is done by May-June followed by result declaration in July.
But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has provided a 12-month extension first from June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020 and then from December 31, 2020 till June 30, 2021. The UGC said, "Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, universities have remained closed for the past several months. Therefore, students have not been able to conduct their research or experiments in university laboratories. Also, they were not able to access library services that are critical for completion of thesis."
A senior official of MU said, "Students have not submitted their theses because the UGC has given an extension till June 2021. Also, many students do not have access to necessary resources for their research work." There are 78 Research Department Centres affiliated to MU.
The reason for the dip in the number of research scholars in both PhD and MPhil courses of MU is the non-availability of online research guides, irregular formation of the Research and Recommendation Committee (RRC) and non-payment of stipend for research work, said Shomit Salunke, a PhD and professor of Law of MU. Salunkhe said, "The varsity does not have enough guides who can assist research scholars via online mode. Also, faculty wise RRC has not been formed."
Salukhe added, "Both PhD and MPhil students have not received a monthly stipend of Rs 8,000 under fellowship funds for research work since the last one and a half year. How are students supposed to conduct research work and submit their theses without basic funds which are supposed to be provided by UGC via MU?"