Translators in demand,JNU foreign language faculty hit

An increase in employment opportunities has brought both good and bad news for Jawaharlal Nehru University’s School of Foreign Languages

Written by Naveed Iqbal | New Delhi | Published:June 17, 2013 1:30 am

An increase in employment opportunities has brought both good and bad news for Jawaharlal Nehru University’s School of Foreign Languages. With more students applying to the courses that promise lucrative jobs,the university faces a shortage of teachers who have been leaving to find placements with multi-national companies.

Prof PA George who teaches at the Centre for Korean Studies says the department has five permanent teachers,but as many more are required for the smooth functioning of the department and facilitation of M Phil and PhD programmes.

The School of Foreign Languages sees around 7,000 applications for a mere 350 seats in 11 categories every year. The ideal teacher to student ratio,according to Prof George,for each course is about 1:4,but the ratio at present stands at a dismal 1:35.

In the past three years,the number of seats in School of Foreign Languages has gone up by 54 per cent,JNU records point out. The school runs bachelors,masters and M Phil/PhD courses in many foreign languages and usually students find a job immediately after passing out.

Chairperson of Centre for German Studies Prof Madhu Sahni says the shortage of teachers is due to increase in employment opportunities. “Within six months of entering the course,the students start getting job offers and other short-term assignments because of the demand for language expertise,” she says.

Those who complete the course find employment with embassies or multi-national companies abroad as students are trained for translation,interpretation and analysis of the language.

Korean studies barely manages to keep minimum staff strength with only four teachers for 120 students. Faculty members say it is difficult to find candidates because of “strict requirements” for a particular post. For instance,in Korean studies there is a reservation for a visually challenged faculty member.

According to a professor at the school,firstly,“suitable candidates do not apply” and secondly,“the script is such for some languages that it is almost impossible for a visually challenged person to teach it”.

Prof George says when such language courses are not offered to visually challenged candidates,then how can there be such teachers? “At most six or seven people apply for a permanent post,and it is extremely difficult to find suitable candidates for a reserved post,” he says.

The popular courses French and Spanish have seen a rapid increase in the number of applicants,but not many graduates return to the university to teach. “They are absorbed by the industry immediately. At the entry level itself,they get packages of Rs 3 to 4 lakh,” Prof Jayanti Raghavan says.

Chairperson of Centre for International Politics Prof Swaran Singh says the increase in the popularity of Korean and Chinese studies is because of “foreign direct investment increasing rapidly” in these countries. “The growth rates are fast and there is an increase in the number of visitors from East Asian countries to India,” he says.

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