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UGC plans to use research students for teaching

To tide over the shortage of college teachers, UGC has proposed to draft research students for teaching work, on the lines of US teaching assistantships. This is part of a University Grants Commission (UGC) proposal for a national policy for recruitment of teachers to tackle the situation.

Many states have frozen appointments due to fiscal constraints. Colleges in the country are supposed to have roughly 5 lakh teachers but at least 30 per cent posts are vacant.

UGC chairman V.N.R. Pillai said that not even a single teacher had been appointed in a number of states for many years. ‘‘Many new courses have been started with adhoc teachers and this is affecting the quality of higher education,’’ Pillai said. In West Bengal, for example, 2,200 posts are vacant. This number is 1,500 in Kerala, 2,500 in Tamil Nadu and 6,000 in Bihar. ‘‘This is against sanctioned posts. In fact, the need of the hour is to create more posts,’’ Pillai said.

The UGC proposal pointed out that many university departments, which had 15-20 teachers at different levels, now function with 3-5 teachers. No state government can pick the additional bills for salaries to college teachers. ‘‘There is an urgent need to take appropriate steps to alleviate this problem, otherwise the good centres in the country may collapse sooner or later,’’ the UGC proposal warns.

The paper pointed out that most self-financing courses are being taught by teachers who are paid on an hourly basis. “This affects quality of teaching in areas considered frontier and important.” It also proposes that “the traditional pattern of only permanent teachers need to be changed with a mixed pattern of permanent, part-time, adjunct and course-based teachers and experts.”

A worried Union Ministry for Human Resources Development is taking up the issue of increased funding on education in the next plan with the Planning Commission. From 1992 to 2002, spending in higher education has dropped from 0.46 per cent of GNP to 0.40 per cent while enrollment increased from 52 lakh to 88 lakh.

(The Indian Express)

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