One in three university teaching posts ‘unfilled’ in India

Scholars say permanent teaching posts are left vacant as universities rely on ‘ad hoc’ lecturers

September 26, 2018
Indian parliament
Source: iStock

One in three teaching posts at India’s “central” universities is currently vacant, official figures show.

Some 5,606 posts in central universities – about 33 per cent of academic jobs – are currently unfilled, according to information provided by the Lok Sabha, the Indian parliament’s lower house. India’s 47 central universities are institutions that are established by an act of parliament and are overseen by the Department of Higher Education.

In addition, some 2,802 teaching posts at India’s flagship institutes of technology – about 34 per cent – are vacant, the government figures also reveal.

“For the past 15 to 20 years, universities have been neglected,” K. Laxminarayana, an economics professor at the University of Hyderabad, told IndiaSpend, a website that obtained the figures. He added that, in some institutions, “there had been no teacher recruitment” for many years.

Budgetary pressures in India have meant that universities are relying on “ad hoc” academics on short-term contracts to conduct teaching rather than filling full-time academic roles, Professor Laxminarayana added.

“Nowadays, the entire system is made up of contract teachers,” he continued.

The failure to invest in permanent faculty members is likely to explain India’s poor showing in global university rankings, he said.

In the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, India’s highest-ranked institution was its Indian Institute of Science, which is positioned between 251 and 300, while just one other institution – the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (351-400) – was placed inside the top 500.

Addressing India’s parliament in July, however, Prakash Javadekar, minister for human resources development, said that the failure to recruit more permanent staff lay with universities rather than with funding arrangements.

“Universities being autonomous institutions, the onus of filling up of vacant teaching posts lies with them,” he said, adding that it is the ministry and Universities Grants Commission that monitor the process.

jack.grove@timeshighereducation.com

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