PhD from open-university at par with regular university degree: SC
Bringing relief to many, the SC has ruled that a doctorate (PhD) issued by an open university in India should be treated as par with that issued by a formal conventional university. With this, it has overturned a Calcutta HC verdict which ruled otherwise. For the verdict, the SC referred to University Grants Commission (UGC) communication to universities in the past.
What exactly is a PhD?
In most cases, individuals can do a Doctor of Philosophy- PhD- after completing their Masters, especially in Arts subjects. Some institutes, particularly those specializing in Science (like IIT), allow Bachelor degree holders to do a PhD too, provided they fulfil certain conditions, like qualifying the GATE exam. At the end of the five/seven-year course, the candidate is expected to submit a thesis.
What did the Calcutta HC decide?
The Calcutta HC was hearing a petition on whether a PhD awarded by an open university under the Netaji Subhash Open University Act, 1997, should be treated differently than one awarded by a regular university. This was in context of appointment of principal/lecturer/reader in non-government colleges, where PhD is mandatory. The HC had held the degree awarded by a regular university superior.
SC overturns order, holds both degrees at par
Setting aside the HC's order, the SC bench comprising Justices SA Bobde and LN Rao referred to a 2009 judgement in an Annamalai University case, wherein it had reached a similar conclusion. It noted that the UGC has in the past urged universities to treat the two kinds of degrees similarly. Considering both, the SC ruled the two degrees are equivalent.
Only regular-mode PhD programs to be recognized: UGC
According to the UGC's March'17 notification, PhDs granted through distance education aren't recognized. Only those attending full-time or part-time courses will be eligible for recognized degrees, especially during the appointment of academic staff in universities. Though most universities offer such regular-mode PhD programs only, some like Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) offer distance courses.