An optimistic University of Mumbai (MU) presented a surplus annual budget of Rs 539.04 crore for financial year 2017-18 on Thursday. Though the varsity’s last budget was also projected as ‘surplus’, it failed to live up to its hype after the MU failed to generate enough revenue.
The varsity has, however, lowered its expectations by reducing the estimated income by Rs 68 crore — the total budget for 2016-17 was Rs607.14 crore. The budget still aims for a surplus of Rs 52.94 crore.
Last year, for the first time in the last five years, the budget had also indicated a surplus of Rs 63.67 crore. The jump in the income rode on the hopes of varsity ‘recovering’ pending dues worth Rs150 crore from its affiliated colleges and the state government.
However, even as the current fiscal is about to end, the amount remains to be recovered. The university revised its 2016-17 budget estimate to Rs 370.76 crore — indicating a deficit of Rs 73.29 crore.
The low revenue meant that vice-chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh was unable to spend on new initiatives such as four new hostels, quarters for employees, conservation of wetlands and botanical garden, skill development centres in Sindhudurg and Palghar, career guidance centre in Navi Mumbai, introduction of multi-dimensional development programmes, a centre for Make in India, smart village scheme and Centre for Online and Dynamic Educationcentres, among others. However, an undeterred Deshmukh will continued pushing for his pet projects. In fact, a new head under the title of ‘V-C’s initiatives’ has been created in the budget, which includes the pending projects as well as new initiatives.
Speaking to HT, Deshmukh said, “Our previous [actual] budget was a deficit, but the next budget [estimate] is a surplus. We couldn’t recover the money from the government and colleges last year, but we will definitely get it this year.”
The university has taken measures to recover the pending amount. It has asked all its affiliated colleges (more than 740) and several other recognised institutes to release the details of payment made since 1985. The varsity also appointed a chartered accountancy (CA) firm to calculate the amount due, which is estimated to be at least Rs50 crore.
The university is making efforts to resolve its decade-old dispute over the appointment of varsity staff, thus hoping to recover about Rs100 crore from the state in salary grants. It has asked all its departments to furnish the details of their entire staff. Citing irregularities in varsity appointments, the state, since 2004, has been withholding 75% salary grants issued to MU.
Other highlights of the budget
- From the next academic year, the University of Mumbai will offer traditional undergraduate and post-graduation courses to the children of the soldiers hailing from Maharashtra who died in the line of duty and the children of single mothers in the state.
- The remuneration given to examiners has been increased.
- There was discussion about increasing the examination fees to meet the expenses incurred due to online assesment of papers. A committee will be formed to come up with a recomendation in this regard.
- The varsity will also develop a centre on 200 acre of land in Palghar district along the lines of tribal university, to extend higher educational facilities to tribals.
- The university also proposed to develop a centre for skill development and civil services entrance examination training centre for women.
- The university will also start School of Engineering Sciences at its Kalyan sub-centre
- An outlay of Rs1 crore has been earmarked for infrastructural development at varsity’s Kalina and other campuses. The varsity plans to raise the bulk of funds for Rs3,000 crore project through alumni and wealthy donors.
- Rs 50 lakh have been allotted for a centre for India-China studies
- Rs 15 lakh have been appropriated for a centre for European studies.