In universities in Kerala, there is 25-35% shortage of teaching faculty, and there is not much happening in the name of recruitment either. This despite so much clamour in the state about the standard of education sliding!
Faced with shortage of faculty in several core subjects, universities have been depending on contract lecturers. “The process (recruitment) is very slow across the state. Universities are facing severe shortage of grants and hence postings are taking a back seat,” said A R Rajan, general secretary, Federation of University Teachers’ Associations Kerala (FUTA).
According to him, the quality of education has taken a severe beating as teachers are being employed on contract. “They won’t have the required involvement because they are not in a position to monitor internal assignments or learning,” he added.
“When UGC pay scales were announced, there was confusion on technical issues like workload of teachers, including teaching hours. To solve this, the Kerala Universities Act needs to be amended. The committee set up by the government to draft amendment proposals has submitted its report, but no action has been taken,” said Dharmaraj Adat, former FUTA president, and professor, Sanskrit University, Kalady.
According to sources, most universities recruit non-teaching staff as and when vacancies arise under union pressure.
But in the case of teachers, “recruitment only takes place to straighten out some legal tangle. Recruiting teachers under the new UGC pay-scale means a lot of financial burden on the university, something we cannot afford,” said a top official at Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat). Frustrated with the state of affairs, the Cusat students union submitted a petition to the chief minister during his mass contact programme.
“We requested the CM to amend the Cusat Act to remove the legal hitches in appointing new faculty. As per Cusat Act, teaching posts mean professor, reader and lecturer; but 2006 UGC guidelines define teaching posts as professor, associate professor and assistant professor,” said Cusat union leader Aadish Ajayakumar.