More sops could be on the way for students pursuing research in basic science. The Centre has started a process to increase their remuneration.

Disclosing this, the Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, T. Ramasami said the Government was planning to increase the quantum of research fellowships by at least 40 per cent from the present level.

Presently, a Junior Research Fellow gets Rs. 12,000 per month plus house rent allowance (HRA), while a Senior Research Fellow gets Rs. 14,000 per month plus HRA. The JRF grant is for five years and the SRF for two years.

Participating at a function to release the report of a Task Force on Women in Science and Technology, the Secretary also said the Government was planning to ensure that every Ph.D scholar in the country gets some fund or other to pursue his or her research.

Noting that a number of new institutions were coming up and at least 7,000 Ph.D holders were required to fill their faculty positions, he said the Government was working to ensure that about 10,000 students complete their doctoral research every year.

The research fellowship grants are given by the departments and institutions under various science-related Ministries. DST is the nodal agency for fixing the quantum of the grants.

The move to increase the grants comes close on the heels of the decision taken by the Union Cabinet earlier this month to double the number of CSIR-UGC national eligibility test fellowships during the current plan period for CSIR.

As per that decision, 12,000 fellowships are to be provided by CSIR during the plan period — up from 6,000 offered in the 10th plan period, at an estimated cost of Rs. 4434.34 crore.

There has been an increase in the number of students writing the NET examination over the past few years. “In December 2009, almost 1.12 lakh students appeared for the examination compared to 87,000 students, who sat for the examination in June 2009 and December 2008’’, said CSIR Director General, Samir Brahmachari.