The Chief Minister has envisioned that every district should have at least one State university. And in the process, 12 of the 13 district have one. And with the inauguration of the Gurajada Apparao University in Vizianagaram shortly, the circle will be complete.

But are the universities functioning as desired and do they have the required staff strength? The answer is a clear ‘No’ as the oldest and the most reputed one in the State — the Andhra University — itself is reeling under staff /faculty crunch, and the situation in the others is pathetic.

Of the sanctioned strength of 1,100 in the AU, the strength is less than 300, which is less than 30%.

Moreover, in the next two years about 50 to 80 professors will attain the superannuation age of 62 years. This will bring the strength to less than 200.

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“In such a scenario, how can the university function, and how will it retain its ranking in the NIRF and other ranking systems, where the student-faculty ratio plays a key role,” said a senior professor.

To get a good rank and to receive funds from agencies such as RUSA, UGC, DST, CSIR and other agencies, the basic eligibility is a minimum of seven faculty members per department.

At present there are departments such as history and archaeology, philosophy, psychology, public administration and political science where the strength has dwindled to just ‘one’ permanent faculty.

“With the retirement of Prof John Babu from the History and Archaeology department this April and a few others in other departments soon, the strength will be ‘zero’ there. This needs to be given an urgent thought by the authorities. The number of universities does not matter. What matters is quality with adequate faculty,” said a professor, who is retiring this April.

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The only solution in sight is enhancement of the superannuation age to 65 for professors.

The Sixth Pay Commission has recommended the increase and West Bengal is among the 18 States which did so.

Moreover, the UGC provides assistance under Section 12(B) of the Act to the universities only if they comply with its regulations. With the superannuation of the professors, the possibility of losing grants under Section 12(B) and 12(F) is in the offing, said another senior professor.

The other solution in sight is recruitments. But after four years of dilly-dallying, the process which was just taking shape has hit a roadblock with over 200 court cases pending against various discrepancies in the process.

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The entire recruitment process was faulty and the university did not even follow the Supreme Court guideline on ‘Roster’ system. “Instead of following the ‘Roster’ system department-wise, the university officials followed the college-wise system which was wrong in principle,” said Prof. Ali, a contract teacher.

Referring to a question from YSR Congress MP Vijaisai Reddy in Parliament, Minister of State of HRD Satya Pal Singh had agreed that the Central government had directed all the Central Universities, State/Deemed to be Universities receiving grant-in-aid and inter University Centres of UGC to postpone the recruitment process.

This has put the AU and other universities in a state of flux. #KhabarLive