Short of funds, colleges to curtail hiring of contractual faculty

The higher education department has decided to curtail the engagement of faculty on contract basis for government degree colleges. The move comes in wake of depletion in the central pool fund in the department.

The central pool fund is a portion of fee paid by each student annually towards his college. The colleges collectively deposit the amount to the higher education department wherein it is stored as central pool fund.

Over the years the department has been utilising the amount to meet out the salary of academic arrangements engaged by the colleges.

“The central pool fund is depleting at a very fast pace due to engagement of academic arrangements over and above the sanctioned vacant posts. In order to rationalize the engagement of academic arrangements, the higher education department has fixed the certain norms,” reads a letter addressed to the nodal principal of Kashmir and Jammu division colleges.

The academic arrangements in the colleges are engaged in addition to the sanctioned strength of the colleges.

“The salary of contractual lecturers appointed against available posts is managed through state budget while as the salary of the contractual staff engaged in addition to approved posts is managed from central pool fund,” an official said.

The department has also written letter to the nodal principal of the colleges and instructed all the degree college principals not to allow or encourage additional staff than required in the institution.

The department has fixed a particular teacher-student ratio for engagement of the academic arrangements in the colleges for the undergraduate and post graduate courses offered to the students.

For undergraduate courses, the higher education department has fixed a teacher-student ratio of 1:80 for science subjects while as 1:320 has been fixed for Arts subjects.

“In case of post-graduate courses, teacher student ratio has been fixed as 1:30 for science subjects and 1:120 for Arts subjects,” the letter reads.

However, the UGC has fixed the teacher student ratio of 1:25 for under graduate courses and 1:20 for post graduate courses.

Experts apprehend that the ratio fixed by the department may affect the quality of education in the colleges.

Meanwhile, the department has asked the colleges that the criteria is required to be followed and should corroborate with classrooms and laboratories available in the colleges.

“Where there is deficiency of infrastructure the number can be increased and adjusted accordingly,” reads the letter.

In case of new colleges, where the enrollment of any particular subject is below 20, no academic arrangement will be engaged by the department.

“No academic arrangement is required to be engaged for these subjects in any circumstances and the teaching may be imparted through guest faculty,” reads the letter.

The department has devised a format and asked the college principals to furnish the details about the subjects offered, enrollment of the students, sanctioned strength, permanent faculty and their teaching hours. Also, the colleges have been asked to submit the details of academic arrangements and their teaching hours.

According to official figures the approximate sanctioned teaching staff strength of colleges in state is 3501 out of which 2641 posts have been filled. The number of contractual lecturers in the colleges is around 2000 out of which 1040 are adjusted against available posts while as 970 are “managed” on pool fund.

A NET qualified contractual lecturer is paid Rs 28000 per month while as the one without NET is paid Rs 22000 per month. The salary was enhanced from last year only: earlier it was 18000 for NET qualified and Rs 12000 for other category.

Director colleges J&K, Muhammad Yaseen Shah said the new ratio fixed by the department won’t affect the quality as the students will be divided in different groups for attending their classes.

“If a class has 120 students, they will be divided in four groups and the concerned teacher will be asked to take four classes. Similarly in case of science subjects, the students will be divided in various groups for practical classes in laboratories,” he said.

He however said the government was not rigid on these issues and will take fulfill the requirement of teachers once justified by the college.