PANJAB UNIVERSITY’S Vice-Chancellor Raj Kumar has stated that the university currently faces no shortage of funds, and has enough finances to fulfil its developmental goals.
“There has been a perception that there are no funds, but since I have taken charge of PU, I have made efforts to remove all technical difficulties which hampered the timely release of funds from the Central and state government. Now most funds are released timely,” said Kumar in an interview with Chandigarh Newsline.
The V-C’s claim comes in the light of ongoing discussions and debates on expanding avenues of resource collection for the varsity. In the last Senate meeting of the university, a few professors had raised the issue of funding again, demanding Central status for PU in order to receive more funds from the Central government.
V-C Kumar maintains that although the Central funding is easier to acquire, there are a few blockages in the delivery of state funds in time. “But I was able to work towards that as well, and now the flow of money from the state government has also been smooth. There were a few arrears which have also been cleared now,” he said.
Apart from Central and state funding, Kumar claims that he had worked towards accessing funds worth Rs 50 crore for the university under the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), which had been pending for the past three years. RUSA is a holistic development scheme for higher education initiated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2013. “The RUSA funds will also aid us in our developmental goals,” he said.
Certain departments from the university, including the University Institute of Educational Technology, Department of Botany and the Mathematics Department, have reportedly qualified for research grants under the Department of Science and Technology’s Fund for Improvement of Science and Technology Infrastructure (FIST) programme. The FIST grant is exclusively reserved for research and development projects in institutions of higher education.
Apart from the grants, the university has also been able to rustle up last-minute funds for the upcoming ICONICA conference on “Next generation Paradigms on Health”, which the V-C claims will now be an annual conference hosted by different departments each year. “Furthermore, it has an interdisciplinary approach, wherein more than 10 departments are linked to the subject of the conference. This is also in line with the New Education Policy which stresses an interdisciplinary approach to education,” Kumar said.
However, as for chronic shortage of faculty at the university, Kumar said funds for salaries still remain scarce. “We need Rs 570 crore in salary grants, but we receive only over Rs 200 crore. So that is still a problem for us,” the V-C said. Currently, the university has more than 530 vacancies for faculty.
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