Candidates who failed may seek legal recourse

The high hopes with which a majority of candidates appeared for the UGC’s National Eligibility Test in June after a change in the question paper pattern have come crashing after the publication of results earlier this week.

For the first time, NET was conducted in objective mode for all three papers in two sessions. Till then, the third paper in descriptive format was not favoured by many. However, the relief over replacement of the descriptive format with multiple-choice questions has turned out to be short-lived.

The adoption of new qualifying criteria by the UGC has denied thousands of candidates an opportunity for lectureship in universities and colleges.

The candidates blame the UGC for coming out with a last minute specification that an aggregate of 65 per cent in three papers was necessary for qualification for general category candidates. The qualifying minimum was fixed at 60 and 55 per cent for OBC and SC/ST/visually challenged/physically challenged categories.

While the NET notification stated that the scores of only those candidates who score the minimum specified marks would be considered for the preparation of result, the UGC’s new criteria for qualification required candidates in general, OBC, and SC/ST/VC/PC categories to post minimum scores (out of 350 — 100 marks each for first and second paper, and 150 marks for third paper) of 227.5, 210, and 192.5 respectively.

So far, corresponding scores of 155, 138 and 130 were accepted as passing minimum for the three categories of candidates. The NET notification stated: “Only such candidates who obtain the minimum required marks in each paper separately, as mentioned above, will be considered for final preparation of result. However, the final qualifying criteria for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and Eligibility for Lectureship shall be decided by UGC before declaration of result.”

The candidates are shocked. “The result has caused depression. My efforts have gone in vain,” lamented Gajendran, an Assistant Professor, who felt confident about clearing NET this year, after many attempts over a decade.

His overall score of 188 did not measure up to UGC’s new criteria. Had the UGC struck to the pattern of passing minimum it had been following so far, the pass percentage would have increased manifold, said Vijayalakshmi, a professor in a private college.

While NET/SET is the minimum eligibility for recruitment and appointment of assistant professors in universities/ colleges/ institutions, candidates with Ph.D. in accordance with UGC Regulations 2009, are exempted from clearing this examination.

But, with Ph.D. turning out to be costly and time-consuming, candidates usually devote their attention to clearing NET first before pursuing Ph.D. Hence, their disappointment is only natural, according to S. Iyyampillai, Professor of Economics in Bharathidasan University, Tiruchi, who has vast experience in training candidates for NET/SET

Candidates across the country who have not passed the NET due to the “last minute” changes in the eligibility norms have planned to get their acts together for legal recourse, Ms. Vijayalakshmi said.