The Higher Education Department of J&K via order no. 77-HE of 2018 dated 08-02-2018 authorized college assistant/associate professors to act as research guides. The order has rightly pointed out that our state universities are not encouraging eligible college teachers to act as research guides, affecting their career advancement and morale, and also the accreditation of Govt. Degree Colleges. As expected, the teacher associations of Kashmir and Jammu Universities, KUTA & JUTA, were unnerved by this order and have immediately shown their reservations under the guise of "statutes" and "autonomy". Where do UGC statutes forbid a college teacher from undertaking the research work? The state universities are actually violating UGC rules by discouraging college teachers to engage in research work. The UGC eligibility criteria for M.Phil/Ph.D supervisors are same for the college and university teachers. There are universities in India, and across the world, where colleges make significant contribution to the university research environment, and in linking research and education.
The fact of the matter is that the "privileged" university teachers are looking down at college teachers as an inferior lot. Where does this elitism come from? Why are university teachers afraid of parity in working conditions? Why are college teachers not invited in DRC and BORS meetings held in universities? Why are university teachers against the democratization and decentralization of knowledge and research?
Universities should not enjoy monopoly over research. The college teachers also need to enhance their API's like the university teachers. There are no criteria by which a university teacher can claim to be better researcher than his college counterpart. The UGC statutes do require some eligibility conditions for teachers before acting as research supervisors like a PhD degree and a few good quality research papers etc. But most of the college teachers with PhD degrees do fulfill these conditions. Our universities need to do some introspection. Do they strictly adhere by UGC research guidelines for their own faculty? There are some research guides with doubtful research credentials. Showing disgust over KUTA & JUTA reservations one of the college teachers revealed: "Our universities have always acted like the East India Company who siphon off all our resources and have established a kind of hegemony. Most of the candidates who were dropped by PSC have been appointed in universities through dubious means".
A simple mechanism could be worked out for assigning research work to the college teachers. There could be a common entrance test to be conducted by the universities of Kashmir and Jammu. The qualifying and meritorious candidates could be given the choice to either pursue their research in the main campus or in the colleges. The course work could be either managed by the university or a college each in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh regions could be designed as nodal colleges. As per the UGC guidelines a university teacher can guide only a stipulated number of research students. On the other hand a large number of our students quality NET & JRF after the Masters and need to be registered somewhere for availing research fellowships. Students can also avail fellowships offered by the Indian Council of Social Science Research, Indian Council of Historical Research, University Grants Commission, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, and Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowships.
There's a clear disconnect between state universities and the colleges. It's on full display during the recent UG level exams where several exams had to be postponed due to bad management and lack of coordination & cooperation. The University of Kashmir would upload or remove syllabi without intimating the college authorities. We are hopeful that the VCs of both universities will address this muddle at the earlier.
Sajad Padder teaches Political Science at Govt. Degree College for Women, Anantnag