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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

‘Where will the faculty come from?’

Express News Service
BANGALORE: With the Central government on a blitz to expand higher education in the country - 16 central universities, 14 world class universities, 8 IITs, 6 IIMs, 20 NITs and 370 degree colleges - an important question is where will the government find the faculty for these institutions?
Former IISc director Prof G Padmanabhan has been pondering over this and other questions over the last few months as a member of the University Grants Commission’s(UGC) sixth pay review committee(PRC).
In a chat with The Express, Prof Padmanabhan says that the Central government is starting nearly 80-90 new institutions under the XIth Five Year Plan. “If we assume that each institution requires a minimum of 100 faculty members, that will amount to around 10,000 posts that need to be filled,” he says. “From where do we fill all these?” he asks.
Besides, the PRC also found that each university had vacancies for around 50-100 faculty positions, which have not been filled for a long time. “With a total of 400 universities across the country, this amounts to 20,000 vacancies. Taken along with new positions created, that is a total of 30,000 vacancies that the government is looking to fill,” he says.
The former director also feels that the pay hike is only one important component of attracting faculty. Prof Padmanabhan says that while the government is concerned with building classrooms and lecture halls, quality faculty will be attracted only by modern research facilities.
“However, lab facilities usually take around 3-5 years to develop in new institutions. Fresh Ph.D holders particularly cannot wait that long to start with research,” he adds.
It may be mentioned that earlier this year, the Chairman of Prime Minister’s Scientific Advisory Council, Prof C N R Rao, had shot a letter to HRD Minister Arjun Singh on the government’s decision to start six IITs this year.
Prof Rao had criticised the government for setting up so many institutions at the same time, without any adequate planning.
Eligibility criteria
On the issue of eligibility criteria for teachers, Prof Padmanabhan says that the current practice of exempting M.Phil and Ph.D degree holders from the National Eligibility Test(NET) needs introspection. While the pay review committe has now made NET mandatory for M.Phil holders, it has taken an ambivalent position on Ph.D candidates. “It was felt that the output or research papers of Ph.D students had to be taken into consideration before exempting them from NET,” he added.

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