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Univ profs’ ‘war’ over appraisal system

After the IITs and the IIMs, it is the turn of university teachers of India to oppose the service conditions that have been linked to pay hikes.

india Updated: Oct 15, 2009 00:39 IST
Swaha Sahoo

After the IITs and the IIMs, it is the turn of university teachers of India to oppose the service conditions that have been linked to pay hikes.

Teachers of the premier Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Wednesday staged a dharna in the university against the service conditions.

Supported by colleagues from central universities across the country, they will be on a day-long strike on Thursday.
The teachers are resisting a performance-based appraisal system that gives points for various criteria by which they are to be evaluated.

The system has been laid down by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the apex organisation that decides norms for funding universities.

However, teachers are not opposed to the idea of linking service conditions to pay hikes.

The parameters for university teachers include the number of lectures delivered and research articles published in reputed journals, seminars and tutorials taken, examination duty performed etc.

“How can you quantify the productivity of teachers so minutely? A lot of things that the appraisal system asks for is not in the hands of teachers,” said Aditya N. Misra, president of the Federation of Central Universities Teachers Association, the national body representing 27 central universities.

The system works like this. For instance, a science teacher whose work is published in a reputed journal with an impact factor between 5.1 and less than 10 will get 40 points per publication. A teacher presenting a paper in a conference will get 10 points.

The impact factor is a measure of a journal’s reputation. The higher the reputation, the greater is the impact factor.
Teachers have to secure a certain number of points to be able to appear in a career advancement interview taken by the selection committee of the university concerned.

“The UGC has mandated 16 hours of teaching per week. But it has not distinguished between undergraduate and postgraduate teaching,” said Kamal Mitra Chenoy, professor of International Relations at JNU.

“Moreover, they want six hours of research per week which is ridiculously low for a university like ours,” Chenoy said, adding that service conditions had not been thought through.

Former JNU vice-chancellor G.K. Chadha, who is chairman of the UGC pay review panel that recommended the revised pay scales for university and college teachers, said some accountability on the part of teachers was necessary.

“We are not asking them [the teaching community] to produce Nobel laureates. But some amount of research and upgrading is necessary in undergraduate colleges,” he said.

“What you are teaching, how updated you are, etc, should enter into the business of teaching,” said Chadha.