Professors worried as University of Hyderabad ‘leverages’ autonomy

It would also ‘alter the nature of public institutions, its constitutional requirements, its commitment to society, dilute academic standards and push public institutions towards gradual privatisation

Published: 23rd January 2019 09:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd January 2019 01:06 PM   |  A+A-

University of Hyderabad. (Photo|EPS)

By Express News Service

HYDERABAD: In the light of UGC granting autonomous status to the University of Hyderabad, the University of Hyderabad Teachers Association (UHTA) has alleged that the document “Leveraging Graded Autonomy to Achieve Global Excellence” that has been circulated and discussed at the recent heads and deans meeting will have far-reaching consequences on all faculty, especially assistant and associate professors in the University.

It would also ‘alter the nature of public institutions, its constitutional requirements, its commitment to society, dilute academic standards and push public institutions towards gradual privatisation.’UHTA has also raised objections to the hurried manner in which the document was being introduced in the Academic Council Meeting held on Tuesday and specifically at administration’s reluctance to share the documents pertaining to school/department/centre level decisions made on leveraging graded autonomy.

Stating that quality enhancement needs widespread, participatory discussions and intensive deliberations at department, school, and the University level involving all faculty, a statement released by the UHTA highlighted that “an Institution’s autonomy cannot also be separated from the autonomy of its faculty, various departments and Schools. It should protect and nurture the interests (academic, professional and general well-being) of all its constituents. Autonomy and excellence cannot be driven by anxiety about disincentives but instead should emerge through continuous, constructive and collaborative engagement between teaching and research.”

The teaching community is apprehensive that the qualitative evaluation of teaching would backfire and lead to malpractices regarding citations. “Instead of focusing on how to improve overall ecosystem in the university that leads to a gradual improvement in the quality, rushing to put in quantitative parameters of performance to achieve rankings is probably the best way to kill quality,” said one professor. Incentivising performance would mean disparity in pay scale of faculty and that would be against UGC norms.Most departments are also sceptical of the proposal to start off campuses for different schools on grounds that the pedagogy of certain department requires close one-on-one collaboration and dialogue with the students and also that the schools do not have access to revenue sources that will allow them to run these off campus centres.

UoH clarifies

Prof Vinod Pavarala, UoH spokesperson, said that the VC has clarified while there will be incentives like fast track promotions for achievers, there won’t be any disincentives for others. Their salary and promotion would be as per the UGC norms. “Different schools and departments can have their own norms for evaluating quality. Also, there is a proposal to set up student welfare and research grant for students to help them get scholarships. For extra revenue special short term courses will be offered,” he said.

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