In the last three years, the Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya has repeatedly been in the limelight for all wrong reasons. Students’ agitations over faculty shortage and lack of jobs being two of the primary problems the institution faces today.
Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya is considered Odisha’s premier college of performing arts and Asia’s oldest institute of its kind. But as on today, it has just three permanent lecturers. While there are 23 sanctioned posts for the college, 20 have fallen vacant over the years.
The college was set up by the Culture Department through the Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1964 as an institution for aspiring artistes of the nation.
The college has around 256 seats for students in Plus Two and close to 128 seats in under-graduate courses. It is affiliated to the Council of Higher Secondary Education (CHSE) at Plus Two level and Utkal University of Culture at degree level.
Today, in this only Government college imparting education in the fields of music, dance and drama, the show is entirely managed by guest faculty. Of 12 disciplines in which academic training is offered, there is one permanent lecturer each for Odissi Vocal, Odissi Pakhawaj and Hindustani Vocal. Similarly, the college has only six assistant lecturers against 12 posts.
The students said the college would celebrate its golden jubilee in February next year, but the purpose of setting it up has been defeated because of the Government’s apathy.
Though students had in the past demanded appointment of guest faculty as permanent lecturers in the college, the State Government turned down the demand.
In the wake of the vacancies, various developmental works of the college too have come to a halt.
College Principal Tamasarani Dasmohapatra said she had expected the vacancies to be filled up before the new academic session.
“Though the State Government had sanctioned to fill up 10 vacant lecturer posts through the Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) in December last year, not a single application has been received yet. We were told by the OPSC authorities that there are some legal tangles as a result of which, the recruitment process has been stuck,” she said.
She lamented that amid staff shortage, the college has been facing regular students’ agitations. “Staff shortage is the primary cause of all problems on the campus. We cannot for long manage the show with guest faculty,” she said.
Students alleged that besides faculty problem, the Government has failed to ensure jobs for students who have passed from the college till date.
They alleged that more than 15,000 students had graduated from the college in the past 49 years, but majority of them had not been able to find jobs in the field of art and culture.
“Only a handful of them are making a living by doing odd jobs in the film industry. The rest are languishing for want of jobs in the art sector,” said a third year drama student of the college.