Panjab University guest faculty members will no longer have to undergo a screening process every year. The varsity administration has now around 300 guest lecturers who have already been appointed to teach without appearing for any interviews.
The move is considered significant due to the acute staff crunch facing the varsity. The guest faculty presently accounts for between 30% to 40% of the total teaching staff. In a recent circular issued to all Panjab University departments, dean of university instruction and registrar AK Bhandari instructed chairpersons to recruit guest faculty members through a committee headed by the department head concerned.
The panel will comprise a member nominated by the vice chancellor and two or three teachers who are considered experts in the subject concerned. At the end of the academic session, the department head concerned will have to submit a report of the work and conduct of the guest lecturer to the academic and administrative committee for its approval.
The teachers concerned will only be permitted to continue if their performance was found to be satisfactory, the circular said.
The letter, however, has not placed an upper time limit on the tenure of a guest teacher, implying they may work until regular appointments are made to fill up vacancies.
NEW ORDER UNDER FIRE
The order has drawn heated criticism with some senior academicians at the university saying it might lead to “nepotism, bias and a fall in the varsity’s academic standards”.
It has received flak for not making a distinction between guest lecturers who are retained by the varsity to teach and those who occasionally deliver lectures.
Given that the university sees vice-chancellors and directors of several educational institutions delivering lectures at PU, this distinction is necessary.
“This circular means they (guest lecturers) will also have to undergo screening. Do you expect a vice chancellor or a director of an educational institute to come for such an interview?” asked a senior faculty member.
Questions are also being raised over the appointment process, with some faculty members saying the new norms have only underlined to make recruitment of guest faculty members more stringent.
“It’s now a sort of permanent appointment. At least deans of respective branches should have been part of the process. The new order could lead to nepotism and favouritism. The varsity administration is leaving itself open to new litigation as guest lecturers, after having served a few years, could even move the courts to seek permanent appointment”, said a senior faculty member.
“I’m not aware of the order, but measures should be taken to curb nepotism and favoritism. Youngsters should also be given a chance to teach as guest faculty members in university departments and regular teachers should go focus on research rather than going to teach in other departments as guest lecturers,” said former Panjab University Teachers’ Association president Khaled Mohammed.
“The order is will be benefit the guest faculty, as they would now be like a regular appointee. However, I think the recruitment process should be more rigorous,” said PUTA president Devinder Singh.