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This article, like many others, was first published exclusively for long-term supporters, 1 hour before everyone else got to read it.

NLS overhauls PhDs for 5 new scholars: Full funding, stipends, more ‘rigour’, ‘quality’, hopes to compete globally

Around 90 existing PhDs at NLS to be examined for current status of studies

NLS VC Sudhir Krishnaswamy wants more rigorous NLS PhDs, thinks NLUs can compete globally post-Covid
NLS VC Sudhir Krishnaswamy wants more rigorous NLS PhDs, thinks NLUs can compete globally post-Covid

NLSIU Bangalore has drastically overhauled its PhD in law programme, due to introduce full funding of the degree and set to make offers to five new PhD scholars around next week.

NLSIU vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Sudhir Krishnaswamy revealed yesterday, in an online webinar of five current and former national law school VCs hosted by JGLS Sonepat: “I can tell you in 2019 at NLS, we’ve slowed down the PhD programme. We’ve scaled back a huge amount.”

“I joined very late in the academic year - we are now advertising and selected [candidates],” he had added, in response to a question about postgraduate legal education by moderator and JGLS dean Prof Raj Kumar. “This is a different cohort of PhD students and we have promised all of them funding.”

We understand from an NLS source that the new PhD stipend would be Rs 25,000 per month, and that around five offers to candidates would be confirmed on that basis around next week.

Update 13:23: Nalsar Hyderabad had introduced fully-funded four-year PhD programmes around three years ago. Stipends are Rs 25,000 per month in the first year and Rs 35,000 per month in the subsequent three years, with around five new candidates admitted per year, including LLB graduates who will also obtain an LLM as part of the PhD programme. Nalsar VC Prof Faizan Mustafa had also introduced a similar Rs 25,000 stipend PhD programme at NLU Cuttack in 2010-11.

“All of them will be funded by NLS through the PhD years and we have a different approach now to this. [It is] not about scale, [it] is about quality,” noted Krishnaswamy.

We understand that there are currently around 90 PhD candidates at NLSIU, who are not being funded by the law school and some of whom might not be currently actively pursuing the degree at the moment. NLSIU is going through an exercise to confirm active PhD students, asking each to make a presentation about the current status of their research.

“We have a long way to go, we have rigorous course work, rigorous pathways ensuring supervision and quality of work,” Krishnaswamy had said in the JGLS session. “The PhD in India in law, that’s going to change.”

The NLSIU vice chancellor predicted that Covid-19 might not be all bad for Indian law schools.

“Covid is interesting - I think it affects the US, UK and Australian universities more than us,” he mused. During the current circumstances, he said, it was a possible pitch for Indian law schools to try and retain and attract post-graduate law candidates who might otherwise have gone abroad by default. “Try us,” he suggested Indian law schools could begin to say to such students.

“If we are able to up our standards we will change, using this crisis, what the Indian LLM and Indian PhDs mean,” Krishnaswamy said.

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