Partial nod for University of Madras expenses may hit academics

Senate defers syndicate meeting citing MCC; only essential expenditures such as salaries, pensions allowed so far
File picture of the University of Madras
File picture of the University of Madras Photo | Express

CHENNAI: As the University of Madras Senate meeting, which was previously slated for March end, got deferred owing to the Model Code of Conduct in place, the varsity’s syndicate committee has stated that only essential expenditures such as salaries, pensions, and immediate requirements, have been approved for the 2024-25 financial estimates.

File picture of the University of Madras
Madras University staff give strike a pause as salaries get credited

Sources in UoM said this partial approval for estimates would hamper the academic activities of the university. Some officials also expressed concerns over whether the expenses for conducting upcoming semester examinations have been approved.

The senate meeting of Madurai Kamaraj University was conducted after the Model Code of Conduct was announced. However, several members staged a walkout from the meeting over non-payment of salaries. Fearing a similar reaction over financial constraints of the UoM, the varsity’s senate meeting was postponed. “The Model Code of Conduct has nothing to do with the internal process of a university. The senate meeting has not been called off for this reason before. This is unwarranted and sets the wrong precedent,” said the head of a department at the university.

After the meeting deferral was announced, higher education secretary A Karthik, who is also the syndicate committee’s convenor, circulated the university’s annual budget among senate committee members for their approval. “More than 30 of the 121 senate members wrote dissent notes demanding that a physical meeting be held for budget approval. Following this, the syndicate committee opted to approve only the emergency expenses,” said a senate member.

The syndicate could have actually approved the entire budget as dissent from around only 30 members necessarily meant that the budget received majority support. The secretary has essentially bypassed the decision of the senate, he further said.

Meanwhile, the professors are not sure if the conduct of the examinations would come under immediate expenses. It has not been approved by the higher education department so far. The non-teaching staff are using their own money at present to meet certain expenses in the hope that the funds will be released soon.

“The university has not paid the salaries for teachers who are now evaluating exam papers, and had also delayed the process during previous semesters. Already, Rs 2 crore has to be settled for incurred expenses. There are various expenses for conducting an examination, including setting question papers, printing them and paying for transport and invigilators, among others. We are not sure how the university is planning to meet these expenses,” said a senior professor at the university. This apart, the university cannot afford to conduct any academic event also till June.

Officials from the university as well as the higher education department were not available for comment.

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