Saving Panjab University: Govt to give cash-strapped institute Rs 7 crore more; MHRD offers Rs 208 crore | education | Hindustan Times
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Saving Panjab University: Govt to give cash-strapped institute Rs 7 crore more; MHRD offers Rs 208 crore

The Union ministry of human resources development has offered to give an additional Rs 10 crore for 2017-18, with its total grant to be at Rs 207.8 crore for 2017-18

education Updated: Jun 21, 2017 13:28 IST
HT Correspondent
(HT File Photo)

Nine months after Panjab University vice-chancellor Arun Kumar Grover expressed apprehension that the varsity may close down by January 1, 2017, for lack of funds, finally there have been movement towards a permanent solution. The Punjab government has decided to enhance its annual grant to PU to Rs 33 crore from Rs 26 crore. The Union ministry of human resources development has offered to give an additional Rs 10 crore for 2017-18, with its total grant to be at Rs 207.8 crore for 2017-18.

Till now, there have only been piecemeal release of funds to the varsity with it having to approach court or plead before the UGC for release of salary or even for money to conduct exams. From time to time, the Supreme Court and the Punjab and Haryana high court have been ordering the MHRD and the UGC to bail out the varsity.

For Punjab, Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal made announcement of the enhanced grant on the floor of the Punjab assembly as part of the budget. The new grant includes grant for constituent colleges too, which stands at Rs 6 crore. Effectively, the grant has been increased from Rs 20 crore to Rs 27 crore.

PU expected Rs 33 crore

The varsity had requested the Punjab government to take actual budget allocation of Rs 20 crore in 2013-14 as base and enhance it by 12.5% a year. This translated to a grant of Rs 32 this fiscal. The rate of increase was fixed as 12.5% as this is the rate at which PU’s costs increase.

PU may still be short of money this fiscal, but revised estimates are being prepared. The varsity is also in touch with the Haryana government for affiliation of colleges which would also bring some money in form of grants and examination fee. The final details of the grants need approval from court as well, so there is still scope of negotiation.

According to budget projections for 2017-18, PU had a deficit of Rs 244 crore. With the Punjab government’s contribution of Rs 27 crore, it will reduce to Rs 217.29 crore. With the Centre’s enhanced grant of 207.8 crore, it will still be in the red by Rs 10 crore.

WHY IS PU SHORT OF MONEY

Panjab University (PU) is the only university in the country which has the unique status of inter-state corporate body. But for such a long time, the institute of such high standard is gasping for funds to keep itself afloat. Why has such crippling fund crunch come in the varsity’s way of function? What is the way forward for the institute to tackle the problem?

Centre, Punjab fund shortfall in 60:40 ratio

After Haryana and Himachal Pradesh withdrew support to PU, a consultative committee of central government fixed the ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and Punjab government for funding the deficit of PU. Later, the Punjab government froze the contribution at Rs 20 crore. The central government also followed and put a ceiling at ₹176 crore in 2014-15. This was not sufficient to meet its expenses.

Why are Centre, PU not on the same page

UGC wants PU to cut down on manpower and bring ratio of teaching to non-teaching staff to 10: 11, but the latter says it is not feasible. It got conducted manpower audit whereby the number of teaching posts has been reduced to 1,378 from 1,510. The overall target is to reduce staff strength by 1,019. The UGC wants PU to keep deficit the same, but the varsity says that salaries increase every year.

The way forward

The varsity has increased the examination and tuition fee to raise funds. Meanwhile, the demand for central status for PU has also been raised for a permanent solution. A committee is looking into all aspects.

Crisis has stalled teacher recruitment

In the last two years, no new teachers were recruited. UGC wants to put a ban on recruitment of even guest faculty. The non-teaching staff will now have to be reduced. Fewer teachers and little funding has led to a drop in PU rankings among central universities.