Major issues faced by research scholars

Higher Education acts, across the globe, as a means to secure better growth and development. As the world is progressing in leaps and bounds, developing countries invest more on higher education to motivate more human resource towards research and development. Nevertheless, some countries (especially developing countries) are achieving the goal of higher education at a huge cost. The suicide of 32 year old researcher at IIT Gandinagar, one in a series of these events, sent shockwaves through education corridors. Recent trend of suicides among the research students and higher education aspirants is opening up new a debate: Why are brilliant brains of our society not happy with life, and what constraints they face that prompt them to take extreme steps? The answer to these questions is for the policy makers to find out, but as a researcher I will discuss some of the basic issues faced by higher education aspirants during their period of pursuing the degree, and some of the possible remedies.

  1. : The primary problem in higher education in developing countries is that there are idealistic aims that are hardly achieved. We have to devise higher education in such a way that doesn’t become burden on the aspirant, rather should become a roadway for achieving economic security. Many aspirants in the initial stage believe that after spending years in higher education will enable them to get better academic position, which later on becomes a mental burden. For some, higher education is a part time excursion; they attend their labs without having any interest for achieving goals in research. Meanwhile such aspirants are busy for qualifying recruitment exams.
  2. Pursuing Higher Education should be a Choice not Chance. Majority of us are waiting for chance factor to pursue particular career without any regard for our aspirations. It is important for us to understand that everyone is not born for research career. It  needs lot of patience and hard-work. Many of you have heard stories of many scientists whose experiments failed many times, and they still tried to achieve their goals. Once you have made your mind to pursue research, you should consider it like your masters degrees, and freely enjoy every part of it.
  3. To be keen on future prospect of particular assignment is a normal human behavior. But obsession about future prospect of research career sometimes haunts budding higher education aspirants, and it becomes cause of stress and depression. There is a mushrooming of universities and colleges, which are annually producing hundreds of graduates and PhDs. However, there are no avenues for researchers to get a compatible job after the completion of highest degrees. Government need to provide opportunities for talented researchers to take up industry based start-ups. In this direction, scholars should also hunt for new opportunities which suit their expertise and ability.
  4. Advisors and university authorities need to understand that researchers in our universities cannot write paper in journals like Nature, because of paucity of research facilities. It is the duty of advisors to guide youngsters to write a good paper with focus on originality, research protocol and ethics, rather than pressuring him/her for making it to any elite journal. Here comes the role of professors and research advisors who can first teach a newcomer about various stages of research writing. Having said that, it doesn’t mean research aspirant should not try to write research articles; my point here is that they should write quality papers with great responsibility. Taking baby steps during your writing phase will not burden the mind and body.
  5. Recruitment in our varsities has not been up to the mark, and this has also led to mental stress among the research scholars, when they observe that meritocracy is being compromised during faculty recruitment.Transparency during recruitment process can build confidence among the scholars and they will not feel dejected.
  6. Our Universities have not created situation where researchers can discuss matters freely with advisors. Most often they are not received well when they come up with a new idea. In some cases researchers having better ideas are mentally tortured by advisors. It is important for advisors and scholars to understand that research is a universal endeavor and not a monopoly of a single individual; collaborative research increases the core competencies and decreases mental stress.
  7. At times scholars need simple psychological advice to resolve mild stress issues. It is therefore essential to incorporate well-trained counsellors in varsities to deal with the mental issues faced by scholars and faculty.

Authorities need to address these basic issues faced by higher education aspirants and try to resolve their problems after consulting various stakeholders and policy makers.

Dr. Ummer Rashid Zargar is Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology, Govt. Degree College Anantnag,