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UGC wants 20% foreign faculty at universities; teachers create uproar

Priyata Brajabasi | Updated on: 31 July 2017, 20:06 IST
(File photo)

Criticism from Delhi University teachers over a recent University Grants Commission (UGC) proposal is pouring in from all quarters.

As part of its draft regulations, UGC stipulated a provision that foreign faculty be mandatorily hired in up to 20% of the total sanctioned faculty posts in Category I universities/ Higher Educational Institutes (HEI).

In June, Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) responded to the UGC’s draft regulations with feedback and called the proposed provision "unacceptable". DUTA had even appealed to the teachers' community to reject the entire proposed draft regulations that emphasises on privatisation of higher education and autonomy.

The issues at hand

In their feedback to the UGC, DUTA had said, “The provision for hiring, without approval, Foreign Faculty in up to 20% of the total sanctioned faculty posts in Category I universities/ HEIs is an unacceptable assault on the younger generation of post-graduates who are already suffering from years of contractual and ad hoc employment and lack of job security due to insincere and inadequate initiative in the filling-up of substantive vacant posts."

"It also paves the way for further contractualisation in teaching and research jobs, and contributes to the growing instability of standards of teaching-learning in institutions. Instead of increasing the allocation of substantive teaching and research posts in universities/HEIs in accordance with the need to offer wider academic choices to students, the UGC will end up curtailing and discouraging local talent at the national and state levels even further, unless this provision is withdrawn," DUTA added.

The UGC’s draft regulations also state that salaries for the foreign faculty members will have to be negotiated and paid by the university itself - that the UGC will not be held responsible for any payments. The draft regulations also state that foreign faculty members will be hired on a contractual basis.

A burden

President of DUTA Nandita Narain spoke to Catch about the regulations: "What this regulation means is that the UGC will reduce their funding of these universities by 20% since the salary of these faculty members will have to be funded by the university/college itself. These funds will eventually be recovered from the students in the form of increased fees structure. The burden will have to be borne by students and their parents. Permanent appointments have not been made in central universities deliberately for the last several years. This way they can wash their hands from the responsibility of hiring permanent faculty members.”

She further added, “All the UGC regulations are aimed to privatise higher education in the country. Eventually, universities will have to reach out to private sector cooperations to bail them out to pay salaries for teachers and other expenditure. The point is to convert universities into money-making shanties which are a clear violation of our constitution. Quality of education is already taking a nose dive.”

Many other teachers’ bodies in the country have also opposed the UGC’s draft regulations including the aspect of compulsory hiring of foreign faculty.

Rajib Ray, an elected representative of Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF) told Catch, “The UGC asked the universities to respond to the draft regulations with feedback. But they have not yet adhered to any feedback provided by universities and teachers’ associations. The govt is not interested in feedback at all. These proposed regulations will become the final regulations very soon.”

According to Ray, quality education has nothing to do with having foreign faculty teach in Indian universities. “The UGC claims that the quality of education will improve by having foreign faculty members. But how? There is no dearth of very accomplished scholars in India who should get these appointments. And why must we consider foreign faculty better than our own? Will they be able to teach students about Indian history, political science, geography and sociology? In order to increase international rankings, we are compromising our own teaching community.”

First published: 31 July 2017, 20:06 IST
Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB

Priyata thinks in words and delivers in pictures. The marriage of the two, she believes, is of utmost importance. Priyata joined the Catch team after working at Barcroft Media as a picture desk editor. Prior to that she was on the Output Desk of NDTV 24X7. At work Priyata is all about the news. Outside of it, she can't stay far enough. She immerses herself in stories through films, books and television shows. Oh, and she can eat. Like really.