With teaching halted in universities at least until July 31, guest faculty at Punjab University have been left in the lurch regarding their job security. Usually, the guest faculty get hired and paid by the university until the semester ends in April and then is hired back again in July for a new semester, but with teaching suspended, none of these guest faculty members has heard from their heads of department regarding their jobs.
“Usually by mid-June, around June 15, we get a call from the chairperson of the department to join again, but this time we have had no communication. We don’t even have an alternative job that we can fall back on now, with private coaching centres also sealed. There is no job security now for young people who have just begun their career in academia,” says a guest faculty from the Political Science Department at PU. He says, many of his colleagues are struggling to ensure the survival of their families now, and had pinned their hopes on being hired back again next semester. “I have a fellowship which will sustain me while I pursue my PhD here, but there are others who don’t have a stipend and depend on their pay as guest faculty to sustain their research,” he adds.
On Thursday, members of Left-leaning student organisations and political groups from the university, including SFS, SFI, Youth for Swaraj and PSU (Lalkaar), gathered outside the V-C’s office and submitted a memorandum highlighting the issues faced by guest faculty. The memorandum said, about 250 guest faculty are hired every semester, most of whom are PhD scholars who need the pay to sustain their research work. “If they cannot be rehired, at least a part of their pay should be given so that they can survive until teaching resumes. Some of them have been teaching us for long,” says Ankur, a law student from Youth for Swaraj.
Since the university is short-staffed when it comes to permanent faculty members, many departments depend on guest faculty. “We do a lot of work. We have around five lectures on some days so we do pull a lot of the weight in the department when it comes to teaching,” says the Political Science guest faculty.
“We would hire them back when teaching resumes, but with no teaching until July end at least, we have no work. The circumstances are out of our hands,” says Dean University Instruction Professor R K Singla.
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