Information provided by the human resource development (HRD) ministry shows that one-third of teachers’ posts in central universities are lying vacant.
More than 53% of associate professors’ posts are not filled and most universities are relying on ad-hoc, contractual and guest faculty. A senior HRD official said the ministry and University Grants Commission (UGC) have been monitoring universities to fill up posts but the situation has not improved.
“Procedural issues are a major obstacle in filling the vacant positions. There are some departments in which permanent positions have not been filled for the past 14-15 years. Authorities give us the excuse that they can’t find a good person for the job. A Nobel laureate won’t come and teach here, right? But authorities don’t understand that,” said Professor KN Uttam of Allahabad University, where 60% positions are vacant.
Vishwanath Pandey, former public relations officer of Banaras Hindu University, said, “Our vice-chancellor has started the process of filling up vacancies and 250 posts have been filled so far. The process for 475 vacancies is also on, the V-C is confident of filling them soon.” The university has more than 65% permanent positions that are vacant.
A senior HRD official said, “Central universities are adopting different methods to address faculty shortage to ensure studies are not affected. This includes hiring ad-hoc and guest faculty. The retirement age was also increased to 65 years in 2007 to solve the problem.”
A total of 2,922 ad-hoc and contract faculty have been employed by central universities to manage the staff crunch. “At times, certain subjects are not taught due to lack of specialist faculty. In many cases, existing teachers are burdened with additional work which puts a lot of stress on them,” said a Delhi University professor.
HRD minister Smriti Irani responded to queries by saying the “onus of filling up posts lies on central universities, which are autonomous bodies created under Acts of Parliament”.The issue was also discussed in a conference of V-Cs of central universities on Feb 4 and 5. “The minister had told universities to look into the issue immediately and fill up the posts in a time-bound manner. They were also asked to file a status report,” said a senior HRD official.