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PhD fellowships shocker: Students taking test get 2019 SET exam question paper

While candidates are already opposing the exam after the question paper fiasco, there is no clarity on what happens next.

PhD fellowships shocker: Students get old SET question paper for examAll 50 questions were the same in the question paper distributed on Sunday for the exam held in four centres across Maharashtra – Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad.

Candidates who appeared for the first ever exam held on Sunday for selection for PhD fellowships given under SARTHI, BARTI and MAHAJYOTI schemes of the state government were in for a shock. Their question-paper was the same as the paper for the State Eligibility Test (SET) exam of 2019.

While candidates are already opposing the exam after the question paper fiasco, there is no clarity on what happens next. All 50 questions were the same in the question paper distributed on Sunday for the exam held in four centres across Maharashtra – Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad. Close to 3,600 candidates appeared for it. All these candidates are registered PhD students in various universities and have applied for fellowships under the schemes.

Complaining that this was not only a technical error but grave injustice, a candidate who appeared for the exam said, “Eligibility for PhD registration means the candidate has either cleared PhD Entrance Test (PET) of the respective university or has cleared NET/SET exam (National/State Eligibility Test) which is mandatory for appointment of teachers in higher education institutions. With the repeat of the SET 2019 question paper, all those who solved it earlier had an edge over others.”

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Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research, Training and Human Development Institute (SARTHI) is for candidates from the Maratha community. Candidates from Scheduled Caste (SC) apply for fellowship under Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute (BARTI), and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Research and Training Institute (MAHAJYOTI) caters to OBC candidates. Candidates receive a fellowship of Rs 31,000 per month excluding HRA which varies between urban and rural localities.

Explaining why candidates are opposing the exam, Akshay Suryavanshi said, “Until now, all eligible applicants were awarded fellowships under the three schemes. However, the government has now decided to cap it to 200 candidates per scheme, but this was not informed in advertisements seeking applications for the three fellowships. And now this exam was imposed on us to select candidates.”

Festive offer

According to candidates all applicants should be awarded the fellowship as per the old practice. “If the government insists on a cap, it should be done appropriately in the next cycle, starting with inclusion of this information in advertisements,” said Suryavanshi. Candidates are protesting in various places in Maharashtra against this decision of the cap, he added.

Talking about the fiasco, Amol Matele from NCP students wing, who is also opposing the exam, said, “It is injustice to conduct such an exam when all candidates are adequately qualified. Moreover, there were only four centres in the state. The government expects these highly qualified research students to travel to faraway centres to appear for this one hour exam, and it cannot even arrange for a correct question paper?”

First published on: 25-12-2023 at 23:02 IST
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