According to draft regulations issued by the higher education regulator, universities and colleges may soon be able to employ industry specialists in addition to the sanctioned posts of regular faculty under a new category of faculty positions called professors of practice.
The University Grants Commission stated that the professors of practise will be employed for a fixed tenure of no longer than four years, and their strength at any given time cannot exceed 10% of the sanctioned faculty posts.
The regulatory body announced in March that it was thinking about introducing such a clause, and on August 18 during its 560th meeting, the commission approved the draft guidelines. These will now be made available for public feedback.
According to the draft guidelines, the purpose of establishing this new faculty category is to attract eminent experts from a variety of fields into academia, including engineering, science, technology, entrepreneurship, commerce, social sciences, media, literature, fine arts, civil services, the armed forces, legal profession, and public administration.
According to UGC Chairperson M. Jagadesh Kumar, the provision is a part of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 implementation, which focuses on skill-based education to fulfil industry and economic needs.
“This will help to take real-world practises and experiences into classrooms and augment faculty resources in higher education institutions,” according to Kumar. “It will enable higher education institutions to formally associate with persons of eminence and encourage them to participate in experiential learning, research, training, skilling, entrepreneurship and extension and to play a mentoring role.”
The positions are only open to experts with a minimum of 15 years of experience. The guidelines suggest that if a candidate has “exemplary” professional experience, no formal academic qualification would be taken into account.
The draft guidelines stated, “These experts will also be exempted from the requirement of publications and other eligibility criteria stipulated for the recruitment of faculty members at the professor level. However, they should possess the skills to carry out the duties and responsibilities specified in the following section.”
The positions won’t be available to those who are currently employed as teachers.
The professors of practice will engage in one of three categories: industry-funded, institution-funded, or honorary. The institutions may collaborate with industry to support the roles in the first category. Under the second category, they will be required to pay the professors out of their own resources. The third category allows the institutions to choose the honorarium amount using their own funds.
The guidelines elaborate on the selection process for professors of practice, stating that the head of the institution will invite nominations from distinguished experts. The recommendations will be taken into consideration by a selection committee made up of two senior professors and one esteemed external member. The instructions said that the statutory bodies of the institutes will make a decision based on its recommendations.
The initial term of the engagement may be up to one year, with subsequent extensions possible. The guidelines stated that “The maximum duration of service of Professor of Practice at a given institution should not exceed three years and is extendable by one year in exceptional cases and the total service should not exceed four years under any circumstance.”