For UGC ‘experts’ practice post professor clearance, Ph.D not required

Professor of Practice, a faculty post that can be filled by industry and professional experts even without formal educational qualification, will now be allowed in higher education institutions, according to guidelines issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on Friday.

Up to 10 percent of approved posts in a higher education institution can be practice professors, with a maximum tenure of four years, the rules say.

Eligible candidates must be “distinguished experts who have made significant contributions to their profession” in fields ranging from science and technology and social sciences to media and the armed forces, with at least 15 years of service or experience.

Currently, a PhD is required for appointment as a regular professor or associate professor.

The guidelines state that for newly created posts, “a formal academic qualification is not considered essential… if they have exemplary professional practice instead. These experts will also be exempted from publication requirements and other eligibility criteria prescribed for appointment of faculty members at the professorial level.” However, they must have the competence to perform the duties and responsibilities mentioned in the following section.”

The move will help “increase faculty resources” in universities and colleges, as well as introduce real-world practice and experience in classrooms that are producing graduates “who lack requisite skills”, the UGC said.

“Many industries now hire graduates and provide adequate training before they are hired. Engaging industry experts in teaching will benefit both industry and higher education institutions,” the guidelines said.

Three new categories have been created: professors of practice funded by industry, professors of practice funded by higher education institutions from their own resources, and professors of practice based on honors.

In the first category, institutes can collaborate with industries that can prove financial support for setting up and running positions. Under the second category, institutions have to arrange salaries at “mutually agreed” rates.

According to the guidelines, professors of practice will be involved in the development and design of courses and curricula, and will also lecture “in accordance with institutional policy.” They will be expected to focus on increased industry-academia collaboration.

According to data shared by the government in the Lok Sabha in July, there are 6,549 vacant faculty posts in central universities.

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