Friday, November 04, 2005

Ph.Ds don't grow on Trees

UGC asked('recommended') universities to increase the number of Ph.D scholar by 5 folds in next 5-10 years time. University principals and chancellor came back saying "Ph.Ds don't grow on Tree" giving reasons why this is difficult or impractical. Some points are worth discussion/pondering. (Times of India 4 Nov. 2005)
1) Students are not sure of Job after spending 5 prime years of their life doing Ph.D, govt should ensure jobs for Ph.D candidate (will argue below)
2) Funds are not sufficient (No argument its practically true)
3) Many Professors are not getting time to guide research students because of their heavy involvement in general Academics( worth thinking)
4) Most faculty are already guiding maximum number of Ph.D's they can guide(6) [ discussed below]

Point 1) wtf? Job seeking after doing Ph.D. Are we making people do Ph.D to do normal jobs? AFAICT a person who does a Ph.D should be worthy of choosing his company and pursue work on his area of interest ( some slight adjustments might be needed). Lectureship should be a great job(?) in itself. IIRC current demand of Ph.D in Education sector is around 20000 to 30000 (source Dr. U.R. Rao's talk at IIIT). That is good enough for targetting 500-2000 Ph.D per year.
Point 2) is Correct. Companies in India are not mostly worthy of Knowledge but of experience, I am quite sure if a B.Tech with 5 years of work exp is seen more value adding than a Ph.D by most companies, 'coz all they want to do it work which doesn't require any knowledge or brain application but just work which can be done by any person after training(for 2-3 months), sometimes I feel a 12th pass with 4year experience would be considered better than a B.Tech too.
Point 3,4) As said the solution is the increase in number of Ph.D lecturers in each college.

Infact a better way to increase number of Ph.D is the research exchange programme. The idea which is used by many countries from Syria to Ethiopia to get people to go abroad on government expence do Ph.D and come back and teach in the country for sometime.

People who have passion for research can find very good professors to work under abroad and in 5 years they will gain good enough knowledge to come back and share and enlighten 5-6 people per head(they might be obliged to do this themselve or by bond or contracts in lieu of government's expenditure on them). This process seems to have worked for China, Why can't it work for India. When there is sufficient number of people in India itself and research atmosphere is set, people can come up with good research work by working in the country itself probably.

Another point: IIRC IITs and many other government colleges seems to get lots of Fund from UGC( or government) for producing the MTechs. Noting that most of the M.Techs from IITs end up doing nothing but simple software jobs, which many graduates can do without doing a M.Tech, why not think of better way of spending this money? What I mean to say is if all M.Tech is doing no good to the intellectual strength/improvement of the country why not scrap the support for that program and support lesser a number of people doing Ph.Ds or Master of Science by Research (assuming MSbR does motivate many people to join Ph.Ds) ?


  1. Are you going for pHD in IIIT-H??

    You have got support,you have got a renowned guide, you work in a lab well funded, with a lot of external projects.Your proff hass less than 6 phD students. After (Or may be between) your phD you can be damn sure of a well funded research job(Somu is already earning >10 Lakhs while doing his pHd) (I guess all your 4 points are discounted)

    What stops you then?

    I guess the same thing stops others too...

  2. Yes I might go for it. If situation like Somu comes up :)

    What stops me from doing Ph.D is not the same as what stops others, I am not looking for that so called 'stability' that people look for(I guess this anonymous is the same person who says its difficult for a person to leave a job at M$ and try doing enterpreneurship ==>SG(?)).

    And who said I am not doing Ph.D ? May be not immediately, but thats not the point of the post is it?

  3. May be,thats not the same anonymous :)
    But I guess you missed my point,pHd is not an easy decision and certainly it is a lot of investment,because here you invest your prime and certainly in Indian context where families invest a lot right through your studies and sometimes even after it you are expected to earn and support them sooner. US model doesn't work here and I guess thats why even converting MTechs to MSBR's wont give India more pHD's; yes It may give US some more...Regarding Government spending money on IIT MTEchs I do support your point...No doubt about it.

  4. In my opinion, it's the availability of funds that makes all the difference. Graduate schools in US produce more PhDs than IITs, primarily because they have funds, and can provide monetary support to their PhD candidates.

    True, your family expects you to earn after you complete your studies, but hey, if you get good monetary support and some sort of scholarships during your PhD, you wouldn't feel the pinch afa the money factor is concerned.