Punjab University vice-chancellor Prof Arun Kumar Grover dissuaded Senators from passing any resolution seeking Central University status for the varsity during a meeting of the Senate on Saturday. He said that that the central status will make them forgo even the little authority that the varsity has now.
In the first meeting of the newly elected Senate members, concerns were also raised over the poor financial condition of the varsity. Grover informed the members about the meeting held on the issue with the officials of UGC and MHRD. He said that PU is only seeking a 12 per cent increase in the central funding even as several other universities have been granted more. He also stated that there is around 80 per cent deficit in funds for paying salaries and that there will be further problem in case the Seventh Pay Commission is implemented.
Senator Gurmeet Singh proposed that the Senate should pass a resolution to seek Central University status for the university to solve its financial woes. He suggested that they can also approach former prime minister Manmohan Singh so that he can take the case with the Centre.
Senator and BJP leader Satya Pal Jain, however, stated that the Centre has not stopped any grant of the University. “The problem of funds arose as earlier the money used to be allocated by the Centre to MHA and from there to the Chandigarh Administration for PU. However, the pattern was changed a few years back and UGC was asked to sanction the funds. UGC is an autonomous body and it said that there is no separate head for PU. We are hopeful that in the next two to four days, a grant of Rs 44 crore will be released,” Jain said.
The BJP leader further clarified that it was a misnomer that it was due to an ABVP complaint that varsity’s funds were stalled. He said that a resolution on central university status for PU will get embroiled in politics and that the government of whichever party is elected in Punjab will oppose the resolution. “It is better to lobby for this,” he said.
Highlighting the problems that the varsity may encounter if it gets the central university status, Grover said,”We will have to conform to certain central norms which are very stringent. The ratio of teachers to non-teachers is 1:1.1 and a more liberal is 1:1.6. We are 1:3 or more. The whole university will have to be completely restructured. If it becomes a central institution without the affiliated colleges, the entire income from the colleges is brought down to zero. The Centre’s deficit towards PU, will increase from Rs 232 crore to Rs 390 crore immediately.”
Stating that the University has 172 colleges in Punjab, Grover said that the government would affiliate these to Punjabi University Patiala or Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. The tuition fees and examination fees will go up immediately and the salaries of new teachers will nosedive by 50 per cent.
“By merely passing a resolution that we should become a Central University it is not going to happen. The Centre will do some serious evaluation of what we are doing. A new revenue model needs to be worked out,” he said.
Another Senator, Prof Chaman Lal said that there was a need to mobilise opinion. He stated that PU should request the Centre to considering it as a heritage university, and that the Centre should provide 100 per cent funding.