Logistical hurdles dog government move to reward quality PhDs

BHUBANESWAR: A state government initiative to reward quality PhDs is leading nowhere.

After a review of the performance of the higher education department in June, chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced that that PhD theses produced by state universities would get financial incentives if these get published by the top 400 internationally-acclaimed universities in the world. The top 400 universities would be decided on the basis of Time Magazine ranking.

Government sources said the idea was found to be ill-conceived as the universities as such don’t publish PhD theses. Only journals publish the research works. “After deliberations at the departmental level, it was found that it would be difficult to make a list of top journals,” a government officer said.

The higher education department tweaked the idea. The department is now working on another plan under which any Odisha native, who manages to get PhD from any of the world’s top 400 campuses, would get monetary incentive. The department has mooted a proposal to reward Rs 5 lakh to the scholar.

The sources said the higher education department is planning to advertise every year inviting applications from scholars enrolled for PhDs during a given time period just like various scholarship schemes.

Higher education minister Pradeep Panigrahy said the government wants to incentivize quality research work. “The department is working out on the appropriate modalities,” he said, but declined to elaborate.

Educationists feel there should be more clarity on the government initiative. Fakir Mohan University vice-chancellor S P Adhikary said though it is a good idea to provide financial incentives for quality research work, the government should come out with a doable method. “There should be measurable and objective parameters to identify quality research work,” he said.

Santosh Tripathy, president of Utkal University Teachers’ Association, said the government’s intension of financial reward for research is welcome. “However, the policy should be such that good works done in state universities also get recognized,” he said. Odisha universities produce around 800 PhD theses annually.

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