NEW DELHI: Close to three decades ago, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) upped the bar for selecting faculty: only PhDs were allowed to take classes. Diluting that lofty standard, the HRD ministry has now allowed non-PhDs to join as lecturers. What’s more shocking is that at least 10% jobs have been reserved at the lecturer’s level, an obsolete term that has been scrapped from academia around the world. Making it tough for IITs to attract talent at the level of assistant professor is another clause that mandates the tech schools to take only those with three years’ experience. IIT directors fear it might result in bright students preferring to take up posts at foreign universities where a fresher begins his career as an assistant professor and not as a lecturer. Earlier, the IITs too were taking fresh, bright PhDs at assistant professor level. While the directive on taking non- PhDs as lecturers is optional, the directors are clueless why it was inserted. “We don’t need it. The four-tier recruitment concept is regressive and I don’t understand why the government needs to disturb something that is in good equilibrium,” asked an IIT director, who refused to be named. Currently, none of the IITs has faculty members who are non- PhDs, barring a few of them who joined the tech schools in the 70′s when the country did not have too many PhDs. But the ministry says the decision to take non- PhDs has not been thrust upon IITs. “There is no coercion involved. Faculty crunch is a fact,” one official said. “That clause was fine at the development stage. In the early years of the IITs, when we advertised for two posts, we used to get five applications. Now we get about 40 to 50, all of who are PhDs. But even now there are vacant posts for faculty merely because we are extremely choosy about who we pick,” said a dean from IIT-Bombay. But some see no harm in this optional clause. “Allowing us to take non-PhDs is just an enabling clause. But what worries most of us is the provision that does not allow us to take bright PhDs fellows as assistant professors,” said Gautam Barua, director of IIT-Guwahati. Several directors are seeing red over the fact that drawing up a rule to take 10% faculty as lecturers puts them in a “peculiar not-very-good position”. Whether to take a candidate as a lecturer or as an assistant professor, said another director, “must be left to the good judgment of the selection panel”. The same rules apply to other central technical institutes like Indian Institutes of Management, National Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research.