The announcement by Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) to shut down three centres and discontinue services of around 25 teachers has baffled students, who have demanded a clarification from the administration.
While most of the students at TISS weren’t on campus at the time of the announcement — the first-year students are busy in mandatory internships, while others have gone home for vacation — representatives of TISS students’ union and few other students met on Monday to discuss the issue. However, with little clarity on the issue, the students’ union has decided to write a letter to the authorities to clear the air.
“The students are anxious, as there’s no clarity as to how the move will affect them. We have also spoken to the faculty members who face termination and they are also waiting for more clarification,” said Rahul Advani, president of the council. He estimates that around 150 MA, MPhil and PhD students will be impacted by the decision.
Students are upset as some of these 25 professors are research mentors to students who are currently in the process of completing their research thesis. “We don’t know if the centres will indeed be shut down. It seems that the administrative staff and the contractual faculty will leave, but the permanent staff will stay,” said a student.
In a statement posted on the institute’s website, TISS director S Parasuraman announced ‘closure’ of three University Grants Commission (UGC) funded centres – Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies, Advanced Centre for Women’s Studies and the Nodal Centre for Excellence under the Scheme of Human Rights — citing UGC’s failure to release money for them. He also announced that the contracts of the faculty members and the staff, which were specifically hired for these centres, will lapse on March 31, when the 12th and the last financial plan ends.
TISS director Dr S Parasuraman told HT that as of now only an intimation has been given to some professors. "We have about 300 professors and some are on contractual basis. Since we depend on government grants to pay for these professors, we have informed them that no grants have come our way in a while and if the same is not cleared by March 31, we might have to discontinue some courses, and eventually contracts of some teachers," said Parasuraman. He added that in the meantime, the institute is constantly in touch with UGC authorities for updates on this front. "I am doing everything in my power to avoid such a situation. However we thought it was only fair to make teachers aware of the situation," he said.
The students are also angry about the attitude of the institute towards this problem. "Instead of telling professors that their time is up at the institute, why isn't the management coaxing great UGC authorities to release funds? Someone needs to take this issue seriously otherwise so many teachers will go jobless," said a student on condition of anonymity.