Professors of Practice: Higher education institutions may hire experts; degrees, publications not mandatory

New Delhi, August 22

In a decision that will open up new opportunities and also prove to be a win-win situation for industry experts as well as universities, the higher education institutions may now be able to take on board distinguished experts as faculty members.

Under the policy termed “Professors of Practice” (which is expected to be notified shortly) a new category is being created under which formal academic qualification and publication requirements will not be a mandatory requirement, officials said.

The draft regulations for appointing “Professors of Practice” (cleared by the UGC recently) are also being appreciated by experts.

If implemented, this will benefit students by offering them a right mix of academics and insight from the ground, they said.

“People of industry can contribute much more than pure academicians as they have hands-on experience. It is often said that whatever is taught in university does not come handy for students in the job market as it is more theoretical in nature,” added officials.  

The experts said the UGC guidelines of 2009 also stated that an “outstanding professional with established reputation in the relevant field who has made significant contribution to knowledge” can be taken on board. However, the draft guidelines for “Professors of Practice” are “more specific in nature”.

Under the policy, the HEIs can hire experts from various fields, including engineering, science, media, literature, entrepreneurship, social sciences and fine arts.

Their duties and responsibilities include development and designing of courses and curriculum, introducing new courses and delivering lectures according to institutional policies, encouraging students in innovation and entrepreneurship projects and providing necessary mentorship apart from helping enhance industry-academia collaborations, conducting workshops, seminars and joint research project or consultancy services in collaboration with regular faculty members.

Candidates with proven expertise in a specific profession or field with at least 15 years of service or experience, preferably at a senior level, will be eligible. A formal academic qualification is not considered essential for the position if they have exemplary professional practice in lieu, according to the draft guidelines.

Experts will also be exempted from the requirement of publications and other eligibility criteria for recruitment of faculty members at the professor level. However, they should possess the skills to carry out the duties and responsibilities, they read.

Their number in a HEI should, however, not exceed 10 percent of the sanctioned posts at any point in time. The hiring will be for a fixed term and will not affect the number of sanctioned posts or the recruitment of regular faculty members, officials said, adding that the position will not be open for those in teaching position either serving or retired.

Remuneration can be decided between the institution and the expert. Initially for up to a year, the HEI can extend the engagement based on its internally-designed assessment. However, the maximum duration of service at a given institution should not exceed three years and is extendable by one year in exceptional cases, officials said.  


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