Bihar education minister asks varsity panel to expedite asst prof appointment

Jun 26, 2022 04:22 PM IST

Bihar education minister, Vijay Kumar Choudhary, has set December 22 as the deadline for appointing assistant professors in seriously understaffed state universities

Bihar education minister, Vijay Kumar Choudhary, on Saturday reviewed the ongoing appointment of assistant professors in seriously understaffed state universities and asked the Bihar state university service commission (BSUSC) to complete the exercise latest by December 31, 2022 by focusing on subjects having higher number of vacancies.

Bihar has been grappling with a huge shortage of teachers in state universities. (File Photo)
Bihar has been grappling with a huge shortage of teachers in state universities. (File Photo)

BSUSC had advertised 4,638 vacancies of assistant professors in 52 subjects on September 23, 2020, just ahead of the announcement of state assembly elections, but the interview process could start only in July 2021 due to logistic problems and Covid disruptions. The commission became functional in 2019 with the appointment of Dr Rajvardhan Azad as its first chairman and completed its three-year term. The chairman and members were granted extension for another term a few months ago.

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BSUSC received 67,578 online applications, the maximum number from Bihar, followed by neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. Applications also came from almost every state in the country. So far, the commission has sent recommendations for appointments in several subjects, but the interview for popular subjects, which have a higher number of applicants, is still awaited. Appointments on the basis of recommendations are also awaited.

At the review meeting, in which commission chairman Dr Rajvardhan Azad, all the members, additional chief secretary (education) Dipak Kumar Singh and other senior officials were present, commission secretary presented the latest status and the plan of action to complete the process for remaining subjects. Though the commission has completed interviews for nearly 20 subjects, the total number of vacancies is less than 200 so far.

The review is significant as the University Grants Commission (UGC) has written several times to vice chancellors of all universities regarding the need to fill up vacancies of faculty members and warned them of action in case of failure to do so. As the appointments are made through the commission in Bihar, the universities could do little except managing with ad hoc faculty members, while several departments in colleges have been left with no teacher. On Saturday also, Patna University syndicate cleared appointment of 143 guest teachers to make up for the huge shortfall.

The BPSC advertised 3,364 vacancies in 2014, nearly 17 years after the previous advertisement in 1997, and the interview process got underway in 2015 and stretched up to 2020 without getting fully completed. Huge vacancies have also led to the state’s poor show in NAAC accreditation, start of semester system at the undergraduate level and implementation of the New Education Policy.

“I have asked the commission to expedite the process, with top priority to subjects having major vacancies. During departmental review, it was found that eight of the 52 subjects account for 2,348 vacancies, which comes to over half of the advertised vacancies. The additional chief secretary had also communicated to the commission the list of eight subjects with the number of vacancies for each of them a day earlier. Once they are cleared, the load will automatically come down and the universities will also breathe easy. So far, interviews for subjects with smaller vacancies have only been carried out,” he added.

The commission, which has been grappling with shortage of staff and resources since the very beginning, also narrated its own handicaps, which the minister promised to remove at the earliest to ensure that the process was expedited.

The chairman said that the process would be expedited, but with transparency and quality. “We are sending recommendations of the candidates the same day the interview is completed or within two days of completion. After screening of applications at three levels involving experts, candidates are invited three times the number of vacancies for interview. Computer generated scores are given to applicants on academic records and publications/awards/work experience out of 100 on clearly laid down parameters, while interview carries just 15 marks. We have tried to maintain full transparency and cut-offs for various categories are clearly mentioned. All objections are addressed by a committee of experts,” said Azad.

A few months ago, the commission detected forged documents during the scrutiny of applications and lodged FIRs against two candidates. Both had submitted forged MA certificates for Bhojpuri and Angika subjects from Uttar Pradesh’s Choudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut. The registrar of the university said that such courses were not run there. This has led to greater caution on part of the commission at screening stage.

Subject Vacancies: History-316, Psychology-424, Political Science-280, Economics-268, Sociology-108, Chemistry-332, Botany-335, Zoology-285.

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    Arun Kumar is Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times. He has spent two-and-half decades covering Bihar, including politics, educational and social issues.

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