BENGALURU: The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has issued a strict warning to engineering colleges and technical institutions against ‘faculty sharing’, noted as a questionable move by stakeholders, who say the council has failed to get its priorities right.
In a communication to engineering colleges and technical education institutes, AICTE warned against faculty-sharing practices, and if found guilty, colleges are liable to lose their ‘Extension of Approval’ (EOA) for the courses they offer.
While some have pointed to a lack of clarity about the existing rules, others have called it a mere diversion from the council’s inadequacies in executing responsibility towards staffers.
Administrator of PESIT College D Jawahar pointed to a lack of clarity in teachers’ appointments. “For instance, AICTE mandates 1:20 teacher-student ratio. It also says that colleges must have up to 25% of adjunct faculty. The council is yet to clarify if the 25% faculty is part of the mandated appointments.” In such a case, colleges may have shared their guest faculty, which reflects as an anomaly in the software.
Former Vice-Chancellor of VTU Prof V Sridhar highlighted the possibility of non-autonomous colleges having appointed guest faculty as regular teachers. While guest faculty are highly specialised, they are often asked to teach, for an honorarium, in unaided colleges that have a wide range of subjects.
These guest faculty can be shared, as per AICTE rules. But the problem arises when many non-autonomous colleges appoint guest faculty and have them work as regular lecturers to meet the 1:20 teacher student ratio. When this faculty member works elsewhere, the updated AICTE software sounds an alarm, he said.
But why do colleges appoint guest faculty for regular classes? Sridhar attributes it to cost-cutting. “While a professor appointed as per the AICTE pay-scale gets a salary of more than Rs 1 lakh, a guest lecturer is paid just Rs 25,000.”
Lecturers, on the other hand, allege that their problems are placed on the backburner. “Faculty members slipping into depression. They include those aged 50 and above, and near retirement age who have been fired by private colleges on the premise of change in teacher-student ratio, mandated by AICTE, from 1:15 to 1:20. Many are in financial distress due to loans and EMIs. Our pleas for proper regulation have fallen on deaf ears,” says Rajashekar VN, president of Engineering College Faculties Association, who wrote to the MHRD this September.
Joblessness has hit the bargaining power of even highly qualified lecturers. Rajashekar said teachers are denied their rightful wages -- a PhD holder, who is at the level of professor, is paid Rs 12,000 in some colleges in the state, and Rs 8,000 in a neighbouring state.