The University Grants Commission (UGC) in a recent notification has made qualifying the National Eligibility Test (NET) mandatory for Scheduled Caste (SC) students to receive MPhil and PhD funding under the National Fellowship for Scheduled Caste Students (previously known as the Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship). This fellowship has been running since 2005 and earlier all SC students enrolled in MPhil and PhD programs were eligible to apply.
SIO National President Labeed Shafi expressed concern that this order will have an exclusionary effect and hundreds of promising scholars from the SC community will be forced to abandon their education due to lack of funds. He also said that coming on the back of a previous order making NET mandatory for minority students to avail of the Maulana Azad National Fellowship, this notification reaffirms the current government’s anti-education credentials. It also shows that the current government does not believe in the principle of education for all, and seeks every opportunity to keep out students from SC, minorities and other marginalized groups.
He further demanded that both these orders should be revoked with immediate effect and that the number of both these fellowships must be increased to keep up with the need of encouraging higher education among all groups.