Obtaining grants and approvals from the UGC for research projects need not be a complicated task. A recent workshop explained the rules of the game.
While there is a general criticism in the higher education circuit that the stress on research is not as much as it has to be, the other side of the coin is the grievance that faculty and research scholars are unable to execute research projects for want of approval and grant.
Most of the project proposals are submitted to the University Grants Commission (UGC) for approval and grants, while only a few are dependent on other bodies for financial assistance.
To address the problem and to get first-hand knowledge on preparing projects and the modalities involved in getting financial assistance for them from the UGC, the College Development Council of Bharathiar University organised a workshop for college principals on ‘Preparation of Projects for UGC Financial Assistance'.
The deliberations were led by G. Srinivas, Joint Secretary, UGC, South Eastern Regional Office, Hyderabad. The inference that came out of the discussions and the interaction session was that the UGC was open to giving grants to major and minor projects. In most cases projects were turned down based on procedural grounds and not on the merit or demerit of the project itself.
Mr. Srinivas urged the participants to go through the guidelines listed on the UGC's website www.ugc.ac.in before they submitted a project proposal. He told them to ensure that they met the eligibility criteria before they even prepared a proposal.
Institutions that did not have 12(B) recognition of the UGC and self-financing colleges were not eligible for getting grants. All others were eligible to get different kinds of grants. However, according to Mr. Srinivas, the UGC has made a recommendation to the government to consider extending ‘self-development grants' to these colleges.
“But, the government has not accepted our recommendation. We will try to push this forward. Once this comes through, then assistance will be provided to self-financing colleges and also to the faculty of self-financing courses,” he said.
He had some suggestions by which colleges could enhance their chances of getting grants. The UGC would consider granting funds more easily if colleges conducted seminars/ conferences/ workshops in association with a non-governmental or any other organisation to bring in the practical element.
If a research project was on a language other than English, he urged the participants to fill the application in English and write the proposal in that particular language. “The application is processed by a different authority while the proposals are assessed by experts. This will speed up the process,” he said.
To a query that the UGC was giving too short a time for submission of proposals, Mr. Srinivas said that there was no time limit for submission. “Applications can be made round the year. We keep cut-off dates twice a year, sometime in July/ August and January/ February. If a proposal is not considered for the first cut-off, it does not mean it is rejected. It gets carried to the next cycle of assessment. Hence, applicants will have to wait for their turn.”
To another query he said that grants would be provided only for execution of a research project. On completion of the project there would be no monetary recognition by the UGC. “The research should be done purely with an academic motive. The UGC will attach academic credit to the research and not otherwise,” he said.
He also cautioned the participants to be aware of the varied requirements for applying for major and minor research projects.
To a question as to whether two proposals could be submitted at the same time, he said the submission could be made, but approvals would not be made for both at the same time.
“Once the approval is given for a project, it has to be executed. During the execution of one project, another project cannot be approved or executed. However, on completion of the first project, the second one will be taken up for consideration. Two projects cannot be executed simultaneously,” Mr. Srinivas said.
He assured the college principals that “gradually the policy towards giving grants was changing” to include more into the fray.
C. Swaminathan, vice-chancellor of Bharathiar University, said many project proposals got rejected on procedural grounds. He hoped such workshops would throw light on the procedures and guidelines.
The workshop was the first one in the series that was planned at the university. Those attending the workshop would go back to their respective institutions to enlighten scholars interested in preparing proposals on the correct modalities.
The next one is being planned for the third week of December when the participants would come back with project proposals prepared in their respective institutions. These proposals would be assessed at the workshop and checked if they met the stipulated criteria and then submitted to the UGC for approval.
This is expected to give an impetus to research in colleges and universities without procedural anomalies popping up as glitches.