High scoring ‘reserved students’ to be considered in ‘merit list’ – panel

A special committee set up by the University Grants Commission (UGC), India’s top higher education body, has faulted the agency for excluding high-scoring candidates from the ‘merit’ or ‘general’ list just because they belonged to a ‘reserved category’.

In other words, if a ‘reserved category’ candidate qualifies in merit list, he or she cannot be included in the ‘reserved list’ and must be considered as part of the ‘general list’, the committee ruled.

The committee was set up after numerous complaints were lodged against the practice of excluding reserved category students from the merit list in the UGC NET exam.

The UGC NET exam screens for candidates who are eligible to reserve junior and senior research fellowships (JRFs and SRFs) to do their PHD.

Many students have also gone to court about the NET exam of 2012, claiming that the UGC changed qualification criteria arbitrarily after the exams were conducted. UGC had said that in addition to securing the minimum marks in each subject, candidates must also secure a minimum cut-off (65%) when all the three individual scores were put together, or on aggregate.

However, on this matter, the Committee stood by the UGC, and said that the notification of the qualifying examination had clearly stated that the ‘final criteria’ would be decided later.

The committee, however, found that the method of fixing the same qualifying mark for all subjects, including Maths and Social Sciences, was bound to be unfair to certain ‘low scoring’ subjects. As such, it recommended that candidates whose scores were found to be in the top 7% in a particular subject were to be considered as qualified, as long as they had scored the minimum cut off.

“… ranking among top 7% of all the candidates who appeared in NET .. being calculated separately for each discipline and for each category. Accordingly a cut-off is determined for each subject and each category for this purpose,” the UGC said.

The Committee also did not approve the method of dropping questions from consideration and recommended that after awarding full marks for each dropped question to candidates who appeared for the exam, the scores be recomputed. UGC came out with an expanded list of qualifying candidates later.