Paving way to more students to take up research in the country HRD Ministry has announced relaxations in the eligibility criteria for Prime Minister Research Fellowship (PMRF) scheme also lowering the minimum GATE score required to be eligible for the scholarship.
Earlier the fellowship scheme was open only for students from Central Universities, IITs, and IISc. With the modifications in the eligibility criteria, students from any recognized university can apply for the fellowship. The requirement of GATE score has also been reduced from 750 to 600.
The Minister also announced that now there will be two channels of entry - direct entry and lateral entry.
The National Institutes of Technology (NITs) have also been included among the host of leading technical institutions which have been roped in for the fellowship scheme. In addition to direct entry, provision for lateral entry has also been made to help the students who have done PhD research for 12 or 24 months.
In lateral entry, the students, who are pursuing PhD in PMRF granting institutions (completed 12 months or 24 months as per certain requirements), can also apply to become fellow under the scheme as per new guidelines.
HRD Minister added that to boost research a dedicated Division is being created in the ministry with the name of "Research and Innovation Division". This division will be headed by a director who will be coordinating research work of various institutions coming under MHRD.
Candidates are selected for the fellowship through a rigorous selection process. For direct entry, applicants are judged on metrics including research exposure, publications, performance in international academic competitions, grades and recommendation letters. For lateral entry, the metrics are a strong research proposal, publications record and grades. Due weightage will also be given to publication in reputed journals/conferences.
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The scheme announced in the 2018-19 Budget is aimed at improving the quality of research in various higher educational institutions in the country. The scheme seeks to attract the best talent into research thereby realising the vision of development through innovation.
The selected students are offered a fellowship of Rs 70,000 per month for the first two years, Rs 75,000 per month for the third year, and Rs 80,000 per month in the fourth and fifth years. Apart from this, a research grant of Rs 2 lakh is provided to each of the fellows for a period of five years to enable them to participate in international research conferences and present research papers. As per the initial target, a maximum of 3,000 fellows were to be selected in a three-year period beginning 2018-19.
The institutes which can offer PMRF include all the IITs, the IISERs, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, some of the top central universities and NITs that offer science or technology degrees