Panjab University, which has been grappling with a financial crisis due to delay in release of funds from the Centre has now reached a stalemate situation, with the University Grants’ Commission (UGC) saying that due to budget cuts, it has no funds to offer to the varsity.
Although the inquiry initiated by the UGC’s fact-finding committee ended in October, the UGC has failed to allocate funds to Panjab University.
“By the time the inquiry of the fact-finding committee was over, and a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was implemented for administrative and financial restructuring of the hostels, the MHRD introduced a 25 per cent cut in its grants for higher education, which adversely affected UGC’s budget,” a university official said.
“Due to the 25 per cent cut by MHRD, there was a 17 per cent reduction in UGC’s budget. Out of this 17 per cent, 9 per cent amounts to the entire amount that is given to Panjab University by the Centre – which the UGC does not have now,” the official added.
To deal with the situation, PU officials have been regularly meeting with officials of the MHRD and UGC in the past few weeks, in an attempt to find a solution to the problem. On Thursday, PU Vice-Chancellor Prof Arun Kumar Grover met with officials of the UGC to further discuss the situation.
After members of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) complained to the MHRD regarding misappropriation of funds at the PU hostels, in April this year, the university has been struggling with a financial crisis, as UGC froze its funds to the university. However, during the inquiry it also became clear that even though MHRD had directed UGC to conduct an inquiry, no directions were given by the MHRD for stopping funds to the university. Prof Grover had also said the situation had arisen due to lack of communication between the MHRD and UGC.
However, even though UGC’s fact-finding committee has successfully completed its inquiry now, the university is still financially embattled due to the decrease in budget allocation of the MHRD. Due to lack of funds, the university has also not been able to reimburse employee medical bills in the last few months, and funds from the Pension Cell have also been diverted for paying the employee salaries.
Members of Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA), who had staged protests in New Delhi last week against the delay in release of funds, have now joined hands with the university’s non-teaching staff association to raise their voice. According to PUTA president Prof Akshay Kumar, “What we need to realise is that the longer it takes for the grants to be released, more will the rate of interest increase on the funds, which will again be a financial struggle. The sooner we are able to get the Central funds, the better it will be.”