Days after the registrar of Panjab University sent a letter exempting new guest faculty members once engaged by the university from being screened every year, various departments of the university have sought the university’s permission to continue with their already-engaged guest lecturers.
The request comes due to an ambiguity in the letter, which talks about the guest lecturers that PU’s departments may engage in the future but remains silent on those lecturers already teaching students.
As reported by this paper on Saturday, registrar and dean, university instructions (DUI) AK Bhandari directed PU’s departments to do away with screening for guest lecturers engaged if they were given a favourable report by the head concerned.
However, with uncertainty prevailing over the position of those guest lecturers already teaching students at the university, sources said that several departments have sent lists to the registrar asking him to allow such faculty members to continue without interviews. PU currently faces acute staff crunch: as a result, guest faculty at some departments constitute as much as 30-40% of its total teachers’ strength.
According to the latest circular issued to departments, the head of the department concerned must 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.
According to PU’s earlier rules, screening was to be conducted for guest teachers — who get paid a fixed amount of Rs. 25,000 a month — every year.
Sangeeta Bhalla, the director of University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS), one of the heads who sent a list of guest teachers to seek their exemption, said, “There is nothing wrong with the process. If PU says fresh interviews are to be held, we will hold them.”
Meanwhile, with the university not setting an upper limit on the tenure of guest faculty members, several faculty members fear an increase in litigations against PU. They say that guest lecturers, after having served a few years, could even move the courts to demand a permanent appointment.
“The issue of upper limit should have been thought out at the top level. It could lead to litigations. But that is PU authorities lookout,” said a department head, seeking anonymity.
The new order has also drawn flak for its alleged potential to increase ‘nepotism, favouritism and fall in academic standard’ at the university.