The University Grants Commision (UGC) has sent a letter to Vice Chancellors of all the Universities under its ambit asking them to address the issue of faculty shortage and fill in the vacancies as soon as possible. The letter was signed by the UGC secretary, Professor Rajnish Jain, and had a set of guidelines attached with it instructed the Universities to fill in the vacancies within the next six months. “Violation of the aforesaid Guidelines may lead to appropriate action by the UGC against the institutions including withholding the grants.” the letter stated.
The present situation
The letter opened with the concern of vacant teaching positions, stating, “the shortage of quality teaching faculty in Higher Education Institutions is a major concern and requires to be addressed immediately for improving the quality of Higher Education.” The data supports the statement.
In May last year, The Print filed an RTI with the UGC asking them for a disclosure of the data on faculty vacancies in 40 Central Universities classified statewise. They published it in an article. According to the data from the All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE), the number of Universities and the student enrollment has gone up manifold from 2011 to 2018. But the data from the RTI suggests that the same cannot be said about the number of faculties.
Overall, the total number of vacancies in the 40 Central Universities combined stands at 33.15% which amounts to a total of 5,511 vacant positions out of a total of 17,047. Individually, the amount of vacancies in Universities is as high as 64.44% (in Allahabad University, which has the highest percentage) and 47.7% (in University of Delhi, which stands at the second position). Consequently, the Universities are sustaining themselves on a veritable army of Ad-hoc and temporary faculties, sometimes even Junior Research Fellows (JRFs, again in the case of Allahabad University) who are teaching for almost 2-3 hours daily besides carrying out their research.
In his statement on the data, the dean, Faculty of Education at Allahabad University, K.S. Mishra said, “Although the acute shortage of professors does not impact teaching per se given the appointment of JRFs as ad-hoc teachers, it hurts the research output… Moreover, ad-hoc teachers are paid Rs.1000 per lecture, which amounts to underpayment of faculty… The situation of teachers is really bad but we are helpless.”
This doesn’t take into account the State Universities and the conditions there. If one is to extrapolate the data from the RTI on the figures from AISHE then the total number of vacancies in all the Central Universities across India would be a staggering 6,37,092.
The notice states, “Shortage of quality teaching faculty in HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) is one amongst the many issues presently confronting the higher education system in the country. This is also affecting the quality of higher education. Therefore, these guidelines should be followed by HEIs to ensure timely filling up of vacant faculty posts with appropriately eligible and competent candidates.”
It asks the HEIs to follow the proper selection procedure as per the guidelines and upload the details of all the vacant posts on an online portal. They should complete the procedure within 6 months in terms of a specifically listed schedule, failing which they will have to face consequences which includes a retraction of the UGC funding provided to the institution.
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