Non-NET is actually Non-JRF | Naved Ashrafi

With proposed mandate of University Grants Commission (UGC) to scrap UGC Non-NET fellowship in M.Phil/Ph.D. research, there is a need to clarify some misconceptions present among students. There are many agencies in India which provide research fellowships like UGC, CSIR, ICSSR, MAEF, DST etc. but we will focus here only on UGC NET-JRF Fellowship.

Let us assume a research candidate named “Mx. RC” where “Mx.” is a common gender.

There are three situations for a research candidate named Mx. RC:

-First, Mx. RC has got themselves enrolled in Ph.D. program in a Central University of India. They have not qualified even NET. So, they must be called NON-NET CANDIDATE.

-In 2nd situation, Mx. RC has qualified only NET but not JRF examination. They should be called as NET CANDIDATE. -In 3rd situation, Mx. RC has qualified JRF, so we call them JRF CANDIDATE.

Now, focus on two terms viz. NET and JRF

NET stands for National Eligibility Test [for Lecturership]. It means if a candidate has completed merely a Post-Graduation degree and wants to teach as a Lecturer in a degree college anywhere in India, they must qualify NET. To become a lecturer in a degree college, a NET qualification certificate is mandatory. NET certificate is minimum requirement for becoming a Lecturer. NET has nothing to do with Ph.D. program, nor it assures for you a monthly financial assistance [of around Rs. 20,000 per month] during your research. Moreover, if one completes their Ph.D. program but had not qualified NET examination, they CANNOT be eligible for a post of lecturer in any college in India. NET is first and foremost requirement only for Lecturership.

JRF, on the other hand, means Junior Research Fellowship. When Mx. RC qualifies JRF examination conducted by the UGC, they become UGC Research Fellow. A “fellow” is a person who performs some business in association with other person/institution/organization. When Mx. RC becomes UGC Fellow, they are provided with monthly stipend and other financial assistance. In India, such stipend is around or more than Rs. 20,000 per month and this is given only in 3rd situation as discussed above.

Now, based of qualification in two tests and enrolment in Ph.D. program at central universities, we have:

Enrolment in Ph.D. program Test Qualified Amount of Stipend (in Rs. per month) Eligibility for Lecturership on PG basis
1. Yes No No 8000/- No
2. Yes Yes No 8000/- Yes
3. Yes Qualified Automatically on JRF Yes 20,000/- Yes
4. No No No Nil No
5. No Yes No Nil Yes
6. No Qualified Automatically on JRF Yes Nil Yes

Therefore, it is clear that only qualifying JRF examination can assist your research liabilities. Even qualifying NET does not guarantee “seamless” Financial Assistance for your research!! UGC now wants to scrap assistance of Rs. 8,000/- generally given to Non-JRF Researchers (including both NET and NON-NET). What is being popularized as Non-Net fellowship is actually Non-JRF fellowship. Let your confusions be cleared. If such an attempt of UGC gets legal nod, this will surely be detrimental to higher studies, research and development in India.

Author wishes to thank Mr. Atif Rabbani of Centre for the Study of Regional Development, JNU, New Delhi.


Naved Ashrafi

Naved Ashrafi

Naved Ashrafi is doctoral fellow at the Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh