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UGC allows maternity leave, attendance relaxations for students

December 15, 2021
Mita Mukherjee

Women students studying undergraduate and postgraduate courses will be entitled to maternity and child care leave, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has announced.

The UGC in 2016 had introduced maternity and child care leave for 240 days once in the entire duration of the course for M.Phil and Ph.D students.

The UGC announced on Tuesday that the same facility will be extended to students studying undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in all UGC recognized colleges and universities in the country.

In addition to granting maternity leave, the UGC will also provide relaxations and exemptions in attendance, offer extension in date for submission of examination forms and arrange any other facility necessary for pregnant students.

In the letter to all vice-chancellors on Tuesday, the UGC has asked all higher education institutions to frame necessary rules for granting maternity and child care leave to women students enrolled in their undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

The provision in the UGC Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of M.Phil and Ph.D Regulations which was introduced in 2016 states: “ The women candidates may be provided maternity leave or childcare leave once in the entire duration of M.Phil and Ph.D for up to 240 days.”

The UGC letter sent to all vice-chancellors on Tuesday read: “In addition to above all Higher Education Institutions (HEIS)s are requested to frame appropriate rules/ norms with regard to granting Maternity Leave to the women students enrolled in their respective institutions/ affiliated Colleges and also provide all relaxations/ exemptions relating to attendance, extension in date for submitting examination forms or any other facility deemed necessary for women students pursuing  Graduate and Post Graduate programmes,”.

 Heads of colleges in universities based in the cities welcomed the UGC move. But according to them, students studying in their institutions would rarely need the facility.

However, principals and vice-chancellors of institutions in the far-away districts said students getting pregnant studying the undergraduate and postgraduate courses were not uncommon in their colleges and universities and several students would be forced to quit studies for not being able to attend classes.

The new provision of the UGC will be helpful to many such students, said Dipak Kar, vice-chancellor of Sidho- Kanho- Birsha University, located in Purulia district of West Bengal which caters to a large number of students coming from rural belts.

According to him, his university already runs a baby care unit for parenting students of postgraduate level.

“We frequently get requests from pregnant students seeking attendance related relaxations and exemptions. We usually avoid rejecting such requests to ensure that these students do not have to quit studies in the middle of the courses. The UGC’s decision will prevent many such students from quitting studies,” Kar told EducationWorld.

Also read: Education sector is welcoming to women: Dhwani Jaipuria

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