President Ram Nath Kovind met the Vice-Chancellors of 17 new central universities (CUs) on Saturday over teething issues being faced by them, including uneven pace of campus development and faculty shortage.
Kovind, The Sunday Express has learnt, had invited the institution heads for a meeting after he learnt of the poor state of new CUs — set up after 2009 in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Haryana, Kerala, Orissa, Punjab, South Bihar, Jharkhand, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu, Motihari and Bilaspur — during a Governors conference held recently.
The 17 new universities are suffering from an acute shortage of teachers with at least 30 per cent of faculty positions being vacant at each institution. While the CU in Odisha has the dubious distinction of having 84 per cent of its teaching posts vacant, central universities in Haryana, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh have 76, 67 and 61 per cent of their sanctioned positions, respectively, empty.
According to sources, most V-Cs attributed poor teacher recruitment to their campus location. “The head of the central university in Motihari, for instance, pointed out that the institution is still struggling to get a fixed telephone line installed. Why would any teacher want to move with his or her family to such a remote location,” said a V-C on the condition of anonymity.
During the meeting, the V-Cs also flagged the delay in the construction of their permanent campuses. Of the 17 new central varsities, only five in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Haryana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have moved to permanent buildings.
Apart from Hari Singh Gour University in Madhya Pradesh, Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya in Bilaspur and Garhwal University, which are state universities converted into central universities, the remaining are still functioning out of temporary campuses. Four central universities — in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Motihari and Kashmir — haven’t even been allowed land by the respective state governments for campus construction.
Ajay Narayan Jha, secretary in the department of expenditure, was also present at the meeting and was informed about the funds shortage. Till date, 11 varsities have spent Rs 2,959 crore on infrastructure development, but they still need Rs 4,834 crore to complete the work.
“We need to equip these universities to become national assets and world-class institutions. If we cannot achieve this in a reasonable time frame, we will be failing coming generations,” Kovind said in his speech on Saturday. At the end of the meeting, he proposed that another one be held in the middle of May to review progress.
HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, Minister of State for HRD Satyapal Singh, UGC Chairman DP Singh and higher education secretary KK Sharma were also present in the meeting.