The University Grants Commission (UGC) has tweaked the contentious Academic Performance Indicators (API) — a mandatory requirement for universities and colleges to select and promote faculty members — to give students the right to participate in the performance appraisal of their teachers.
However, only those with 75 per cent or more attendance will be eligible to evaluate their teachers. This decision was taken by the UGC at its last meeting held in April. The higher education regulator has also modified API to make teaching/learning the main criterion of performance appraisal instead of research and co-curricular activities.
UGC, sources said, has made the research criterion more flexible by scrapping the provision that made it mandatory for a teacher to contribute to all parts of research, including publishing papers in journals, attending conferences and seminars and guiding PhD and undergraduate dissertations. This was done on the ground that it forced teachers to collect points from activities that may not be of interest to them, and hence, disallows them the opportunity to pursue a long-term engagement in any area.
So earlier, 55 per cent of the API grading under the research category was based on the number of research papers/publications, 20 per cent on research projects, 10 per cent on research guidance/undergraduate dissertations and 15 per cent on training course and conference/seminars. Now a teacher can score high in the research category by focusing on any of the above elements.
“The current API system expects an unrealistic research output even from teachers of those colleges and institutes which do not have the proper research facilities and enabling environment. So a uniform appraisal criteria for all teachers was detrimental to those from socially and economically backward areas. Which is why we shifted the acute focus from research to how well a faculty member is teaching his or her class,” said a source in the HRD Ministry.
To discourage substandard research and shady journals, UGC will release a list of recommended peer-reviewed national and international journals where papers can be published. This list, for the first time, will also include research journals in Indian languages to encourage research in vernacular languages too.
The government has also reduced the weightage given to co-curricular activities. “We realised that teachers who are focused more on taking classes or delivering lectures than on extracurricular activities like refereeing a basketball match were at a disadvantage because of this criterion,” the above source added
Teachers’ unions have been protesting against API scores ever since it was introduced in 2010 on the ground that it is inflexible and the strict regimentation of a teacher’s work kills free and critical thinking. The new API criteria will be notified soon.