Centre seeks state view on dilution of eligibility norms for professors

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has sought views from states and Union Territories on the rationality of the eligibility norms for hiring and promotion of university professors, considering the large number of vacancies across the higher education institutions for the want of eligible candidates.

A circular in this regard has been issued to the states and UTs on September 3. The states have to submit their views in a prescribed format before September 20 which would be placed before the Arun Nigwekar committee. The committee was constituted by the ministry of human resorce development (MHRD) last month to review the existing norms. dna has reported about it in on August 16.

A large number of faculty vacancies across central universities and other higher education institutions has forced the ministry to review the eligibility criteria — PhD and NET — laid down for the appointment of associate professors and professors.

A six-member committee under the chairmanship of academician Nigavekar has been constituted for evaluation of qualifications, such as having a PhD and qualifying the National Eligibility Test, for appointment of professors and for their promotion from the assistant professor’s post to associate and professor rank and accordingly suggest a policy for selection.

The committee’s mandate is to examine all issues related to attracting and retaining talented manpower in teaching. It has been directed to submit recommendations within two months. The committee will also review the Academic Performance Indicators (API) criteria introduced a few years ago to assess the eligibility of teachers at the time of appointment and even for promotions.

The committee will also study the problems and issues related to ad hoc and contractual appointments, currently marred by irregularities, with allegations of appointment of under-qualified people as teachers on skewed salaries.

The revised norms may eventually be applicable to UGC-funded state universities as well, said an official.

Over 35% teachers’ posts, including ad hoc and part-time teachers in universities and other institutions (IITs, IIMs and NITs) have been lying vacant for years and authorities have failed to fill them up for want of eligible candidates. Because teaching, as a profession, has lost sheen over the years, many institutions fail to find enough eligible candidates even after advertising the posts, leading to a debate in academic circles about the veracity of norms in changed scenario.

Lack of adequate teachers not only affects the overall quality of education in any institution, but also leads to pressure on students and existing teachers, say academicians. “Certain subjects are not taught at all because of lack of specialist faculty. Also, existing teachers get additional work as they are asked to cover the course many times,” said a JNU professor.

While the MHRD officials insist that the move aims to bring in talented people from the industry and other sectors into academia who have better domain knowledge than mere degrees, academicians’ views are divided over the possibility of dilution of eligibility norms.

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