UGC clears ‘professors of practice’ in all colleges, universities: who are they and what will they do?

Source: The post is based on the article “UGC clears ‘professors of practice’ in all colleges, universities: who are they and what will they do?” published in the Indian Express on 3rd October 2022.

What is the News?

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued new guidelines under which higher education institutes can create a new teaching position called Professor of Practice.

Note: A similar post already exists in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

What are the key features of UGC guidelines on Professors of Practice?

A professor of practice can be anyone with a background in a diverse range of areas from technology, science, social sciences, media, literature, armed forces, law, fine arts, etc.

Eligibility: An individual will have to be a “distinguished expert” who has “made remarkable contributions in their professions”, and has at least 15 years of service or experience.

Academic eligibility: No formal academic qualification is necessary in order to be considered for this position if a person has been an “exemplary” professional in their field of work.

Note: Currently, under the UGC’s minimum qualifications for appointment of teachers and other academic staff, an individual needs a PhD to be recruited as a professor or associate professor, and also needs to have cleared the National Eligibility Test (NET).

Selection process: Universities and colleges will carry out appointments on a nomination basis. However, these posts cannot exceed 10% of the sanctioned faculty strength of an institute.

It is open to the institutions themselves to decide the sector from which they want to rope in professionals. However, the position is not open for those in the teaching profession — either serving or retired.

Role: They will be involved in the development and designing of courses and curriculum, and will deliver lectures as well. They can also carry out joint research projects or consultancy services in collaboration with regular faculty members.

Note: It will not affect the number of sanctioned posts and the recruitment of regular faculty members.

Type of engagement and duration: It can be either a full-time or a part-time engagement for at least four years. Initially, the hiring will be for one year. Based on performance, extensions may be given. The total service should not exceed four years under any circumstances.

What are the objectives of the UGC guidelines on Professors of Practice?

Address the understaffing of Indian higher education institutes: Recruiting industry experts and professionals will help “augment faculty resources” in universities and colleges.

Addressing concerns about the quality of graduates: Today’s industry looks for graduates with specific skill sets. But the higher education system is churning out graduates who fall short of the required skills.

The professor of practice will promote the integration of academic scholarship with practical expertise and experience. All this will create industry-ready graduates.

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