New Delhi: Putting an end to the anxiety among PHD aspirants, HRD minister Smriti Irani today made it clear that the non-NET fellowship is not being discontinued.
Her assertion came on a day when she met an eight-member delegation including representatives from students union of Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University her at her residence.
"Not being discontinued. Need to include state university students and direct benefit transfer (DBT) so that students accrue benefit directly," she tweeted following her meeting with the students.
Irani's tweet came in response to a concern raised by CPI (M) MP in Rajya Sabha Ritabrata Banerjee who had also written to the minister expressing her concern over the decision of the University Grants Commission (UGC) to scrap the non-NET fellowship.
UGC, had resolved to discontinue the scheme of non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship, which is provided to those undertaking research in central universities across India, in a meeting held on October 7, contending that the fellowship programme was discriminatory in nature and lacked uniformity among universities in the selection process.
The commission had also cited shortage of funds as the reason behind inability to provide fellowships.
Under the scheme, financial assistance was provided to students undertaking MPhil and PhD, they were provided Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000 per month respectively.
PhD students got assistance for four years and MPhil students for 18 months.
They also got a contingency amount per year to help them carry out their research.
Hundreds of students from JNU, DU, Jamia Millia, Ambedkar University and other institutions have been protesting since last week at the UGC demanding the authorities to restore the fellowships.
While 100 of them were detained on last Friday and released later in the evening, the UGC officials had assured a student delegation that the decision will be reviewed. However, students chose to continue the protest until their demands are met.
Meanwhile, the left-backed All India Students Association(AISA) which has been protesting since last week claimed that the delegation included only representatives from BJP's student wing Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
"We will continue our protest and organise a strike at JNU tomorrow. The protest will go on until a circular is issued by UGC revoking the decision," the party said in a statement.