DESPITE STUDENT protests continuing against the 5 per cent fee hike at Panjab University from 2016-17, the PU Senate on Sunday approved the hike, leaving no hope for the protesting students.
Even as the Senate took the decision, the month-long protest by the university students continued outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office. Security outside the Administrative Block of the university was beefed up in order to prevent the students from staging a protest outside the block.
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Earlier this month, during an ongoing meeting of the university Syndicate, a ruckus was created on the campus as the protesting students gathered around the Administrative Block. On Sunday, however, over 10 male and female police personnel were deployed at the university.
The approved 5 per cent hike will now result in an increase ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 1,200 in different courses at the varsity.
Addressing the House on Sunday, PU Vice-Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover said, “The excess money collected from the fee hike will be spent on the EWS students in order to help them financially. The university administration will also appoint a committee to increase the cash prizes that are given to the meritorious students. All of these expenses will be made utilising the surplus funds generated from the fee increment.”
Discussing the issue of increased police interference on the campus, Grover informed the House that a meeting with the IGP would soon be arranged to ensure ways of handling situations by minimising police interference.
Further, approving the recommendations of the Panjab University Board of Finance, the PU Senate gave the final nod for the proposed budget of Rs 517.33 crore for 2016-17. In the approved budget, the deficit comes close to Rs 306 crore whereas the estimated income for the next academic year is Rs 210.61 crore. As per an estimate, about Rs 430 crore will be spent on payment of salaries, and Rs 14.88 crore on new academic programmes, scholarships, research aids, books and journals.
An amount of Rs 5 crore has been allocated for the construction of a new girls’ hostel, and Rs 5 crore will be spent on securing the allotted land for the upcoming Sarangpur campus. The Senate also approved a sum of Rs 150 lakh to start construction of Regional Centre, Muktsar, Rs 75 lakh for establishing additional parking facilities on PU campus and Rs 126.21 lakh for upgrading, widening of the road near Gate No. 3 of the university.
Deliberating on the university’s dwindling finances, the Senate also discussed ways of increasing the university’s financial income. Implementation of paid parking, installation of solar panels and reduced electricity usage, starting of short-term summer programmes during the summer vacation, generating more revenue through the university’s holiday home in Shimla, adopting a common policy for renting out of university shops and renting vacant shops at the earliest were amongst the few proposals that were put forward. The PU Think Tank had earlier recommended that the university buildings could be rented after classes in an attempt to raise more money.
“We can link our programmes with the industry which will not only help in revenue generation, but will also help the students in skill development training,” a member of the Senate pointed out.
The V-C added that a final decision in this regard would be taken in the next weeks, and a plan of action would be prepared, keeping in mind the feasibility of these options.
THE House stood divided over the Syndicate’s decision not to give extension beyond the third year of re-employment to Dr Vijay Kumar Chopra, Department of Evening Studies. On account of less contribution to the university academically and repeated instances of Dr Chopra’s improper conduct, Grover had recommended that no extension be given to him. After a thorough discussion, it was, however, decided that the issue would be reconsidered by the Syndicate, PUTA and the departmental academic committee before a final call is taken.
“Until the re-examination is conducted, let Dr Chopra continue teaching and drawing money from the university. It is anyway the taxpayer’s money,” stated a seemingly irked Grover after questions were raised on his intentions behind his suggestion not to give extension to Dr Chopra.
A discussion was also held on the retirement age for the teaching staff of the university. “Does an extension in the retirement age and the consequent re-employment have more demerits than merits? We need not allow re-employment; instead young professors should be appointed in these posts. That will also help us in increasing employment opportunities for youngsters and in decreasing the financial expenditure as junior professors are likely to be hired on a lower pay scale to begin with,” stated D P S Randhawa.
According to Anu Chatrath, however, only professors who continue to contribute academically to the university should be allowed to seek re-employment.
The Senate also discussed the probe report by former Punjab and Haryana judge Justice S D Anand about Professor Neelam Paul from the Department of Music who was found guilty of submitting false information about attending seminars and writing research papers for her promotion.
However, owing to the seriousness of the case, the Senate deferred the item, stating that more time was needed to carefully examine the case.
Recommendations for the Panjab University’s new Policy Against Sexual Harassment
Creation of additional seats for students from rural and border areas in PG and UG courses
Introduction of PU CET (PG) for admission to Masters in Social Work (MSW)
Revised fee structure for the degree colleges affiliated to PU
Recommendations to restore the original status of Directorate of Sports and Campus Sports at PU
Proposed amendments for sabbatical leave
Appointment of Ela Bhatt, Dr Manmohan Singh, Kailash Satyarthi and Professor Yoginder Alagh as Chair Professors at the university