Academics explore the utility of M. Phil in the light of UGC regulation that a pass in NET or SLET is a must for non-Ph.Ds for teaching posts.

What relevance does Master in Philosophy (M. Phil) hold after the University Grants Commission brought in regulations that a pass in NET/SLET is a pre-requisite, except for those who are or have been awarded a Ph. D degree in accordance with the UGC Regulations, 2009, for appointment to various teaching positions in universities, colleges and institutions?

An M. Phil degree does not apparently mean a gateway to teaching positions anymore in higher educational institutions. But academics are still optimistic about the utility of the one-year programme, which, they describe, can be completed with just a little extra effort.

“M. Phil programme mainly caters to the needs of research scholars. A two-year postgraduation cannot provide the required platform to explore someone's ideas. Only after joining M. Phil, a student comes to know about the nitty-gritty of research methods and methodologies, which will lead him to achieve the level of satisfaction by proving or disproving certain things,” says S. Iyyampillai, Head of the Department, Economics, Bharatidasan University.

“An M. Phil scholar enhances his knowledge on a particular subject, discovers his area of interest and extracts valuable tips from his guide on that subject during the one-year term. And on completion of M. Phil, if he opts for a Ph. D, he can be granted a one-year exemption from the stipulated duration,” he opines, adding, “I prefer guiding Ph.D scholars, those who have M. Phil qualifications.”

On the job prospects, Fr. R. Rajarathinam, principal of St Joseph College, says, “Are all professional degree holders employed? Even many alumni of top-ranked institutions are jobless. An M. Phil holder can work as a research associate, guide and advisor with companies or organisations. Besides, he can be employed in research wings of various government and private institutions and establishments, and earn a reasonable income.”

“Chances are also bright to get funds or fellowships from foreign universities or organisations such as UNESCO, UNICEF and UNDP to carry out projects in India or abroad,” he points out.

Commenting on the UGC guidelines, he says, “Colleges in remote areas mainly hire candidates with M. Phil qualifications, as it is very tedious for them to find those with NET/SLET/SET.

For example, in a subject like computer science, only a few candidates clear NET/SLET/SET and join colleges and universities in urban areas.”

“A rural student cannot afford to enter top-notch professional institutions. He prefers joining M. Phil to satisfy his research curiosity. This is the time when he expands his knowledge base by presenting papers in seminars and conferences at national and international-level in addition to publishing articles in reputed journals. And when he gets an employment after completion, he just says ‘thanks' to his luck stars,” adds Mr. Iyyampillai, also Coordinator, Centre for Youth Development Studies, which conducts free trainings for candidates appearing for NET/SLET.