Universities and higher education institutions will soon be able to hire distinguished experts as faculty members in a new category for which formal academic qualification and publication requirements will not be mandatory. The decision was taken by the University Grants Commission (UGC) at its 560th meeting last week and the scheme – “Professors of Practice” – is expected to be notified next month.
According to the approved draft guidelines of practicing teachers consulted by PTI, experts in fields such as engineering, science, media, literature, entrepreneurship, social sciences, fine arts, public service and the armed forces, among others, can be hired. “Those with proven expertise in their specific profession or role with at least 15 years of service or experience, preferably at a senior level, will be eligible for practice faculty. A formal academic qualification is not considered essential for this position if they have exemplary professional practice instead,” read the guidelines, which will likely come into effect from the next academic session.
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“These experts will also be exempt from the publication requirement and other eligibility criteria stipulated for the recruitment of faculty members at the professor level. “However, they must possess the necessary skills to carry out their duties and responsibilities,” according to the guidelines.
The commission decided that the number of practicing faculty in an institution of higher education (HEI), at any one time, should not exceed 10% of sanctioned positions. Faculty members under the program will be engaged in three categories – industry-funded practice faculty, practice faculty engaged by HEIs from their own resources, and honorary practice faculty.
“The appointment of the teachers of practice will be for a fixed period. Their hiring will be exclusive of university or college sanctioned positions. This will not affect the number of sanctioned positions and the recruitment of regular faculty members. The scheme will not be open to those in a teaching position – whether serving or retired,” he said. A consolidated amount, mutually agreed between the institution and the expert, will be paid as remuneration for those hired in the category.
“The engagement can initially last up to a year. At the end of the initial engagement or subsequent extension, HEI will conduct an assessment and make the extension decision. The HEI will develop its own evaluation procedure for the extension based on the input and requirements of experts engaged as practice teachers. “The maximum period of service of a professor of practice in any given institution shall not exceed three years and may be extended by one year in exceptional cases and the total service shall in no case exceed four years,” the statement said. document.
The involvement in the development and design of courses and curricula, the introduction of new courses and the delivery of lectures in accordance with institutional policies, the encouragement of students in innovation and entrepreneurship projects and providing the necessary mentorship for these activities are part of the tasks and responsibilities defined for the teachers of practice.
They will also focus on improving industry-university collaborations, organize workshops and seminars jointly in collaboration with regular professors, offer special lectures and training programs and carry out joint research projects or consultancy services in collaboration with regular faculty members of the HEI concerned. “Vice-Chancellors and Principals may invite nominations from eminent experts for the positions of Professor of Practice. Experts willing to serve may also be nominated or they may send their nomination to the Vice-Chancellors with a detailed biography and summary their potential contribution to the HEI.
“These nominations will be reviewed by a selection committee consisting of two senior HEI professors and a distinguished external member. Based on the recommendations of this committee, the Academic Council and the Executive Council or statutory bodies of the HEI will decide on the engagement,” he said.
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