Viewd as academically unhealthy and a hindrance in the evolution of an institution, academic inbreeding has become a bane of Panjab University.
An analysis of the staff at 15 popular departments of PU, done by Newsline, shows that as many as 181 of the 284 faculty members, which is about 64 per cent, are alumni of the university.
Whether it is the Department of Law or the Department of Physics, the University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences or the University Business School, more than 50 per cent of the faculty members are from PU. In some, the number of faculty members from outside is very small.
Sample this: The Department of Law has 18 faculty members, of whom only two are from outside. At the Department of Physics, only 10 out of 31 faculty members are from outside.
Talking about the reasons which have led to the culture, a senior professor said, “Research scholars at PU are encouraged to seek lecturership at the same department after completing their PhD. This is unlike IITs where a student has to
work for two years outside, prove his capability and then seek employment in his alma mater.”
Former PUTA president Khalid Mohammad said, “Panjab University initially brought best minds from everywhere, but gradually it fell prey to inbreeding, with teachers planting their sons and daughters in the university. But PU is still better than other universities in both Punjab and Haryana, with at least 30 per cent faculty from outside.”
Highlighting the inverse relationship between academic inbreeding and academic productivity, one of the professors who came from Banaras Hindu University said, “Candidates who come from other universities are more ambitious as they have defeated many others to get into the university. Besides, they have to prove themselves at every point, because they know that comparisons with local candidates are bound to happen.”
“Inbreeding champions the cause of mediocrity,” said Sanjeev Tiwari, former Panjab University spokesperson. “A decade ago, more than half of the faculty members in PU were from outside. The VCs would take pride in the fact that Panjab University had the best of talent. However, the scenario has changed now.”
While institutes in the vicinity, including Indian Institute of Science Education and Research and National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, both in Mohali, have the best faculty from all over the country, with many from down south, Panjab University despite being such an old and renowned university has limited its expanse to the region, said Prof B S Bhoop from UIPS.