Rejuvenate State universities for quality education and employment
Quality education can play pivotal role in providing employment to youth. A separate state of Telangana has been achieved to fulfil the aspirations of youth and students.
Quality education can play pivotal role in providing employment to youth. A separate state of Telangana has been achieved to fulfil the aspirations of youth and students. Students had participated massively across the state during Telangana movement and sacrificed their lives and studies at university campuses like Osmania and Kakatiya University. They were promised that more job opportunities will be created after formation of new state but the present situation is altogether different, the government is killing their dreams of getting jobs by delaying the recruitment process, even the released employment notifications have been pending in courts with full of controversies.
The Telangana government is neglecting the universities in the state. There are 11 universities under higher education in which the sanctioned faculty posts were around 2766, but the vacant posts are now about 1700 plus, the number of teaching posts should be increased accordingly with new courses introduced in recent times. With In-charge Vice-Chancellors, academic curriculum in universities is in outrageous condition with as large as 65 per cent of vacant faculty posts in Osmania (845), Kakatiya (281), Telangana(69), Mahatma Gandhi(35), Palamuru (63), Satavahana (30), RGUKT(125), JNTU(225), Telugu University(40) and Ambedkar open university(48). In spite of so many protests by students, the Telangana government is still stubborn towards recruiting teaching and non-teaching staff even after UGC asked multiple times to complete the recruitment process.
Almost all the universities in Telangana state are facing lack of faculty. It is required to fill the vacancies immediately created by huge retirements to maintain the balance in administration and academic activities with good proportion of senior and junior faculty members. Dependence on contract employees due to shortage of experienced faculty influence the research work, very less no of the quality publications with good impact factor which, also impact NAAC grading.
The funding agencies like UGC, DST, DAE, ICAR, AICTE, ICSSR, DRDO, and ICMR etc. will stop project grants. It is not surprising to know that in the state there is a lack of coordination among industrial and academic institutions through knowledge sharing involving academics with Industries and firms.
The National Educational Policy (2020) instruct the universities to produce not only a degree but also should contribute new findings through various research projects. However, universities are suffering from limited faculty, apart from the outdated equipment available in the laboratories which no longer are suitable to the present scenario.
Research in State universities can be enhanced in many folds by collaborating them with industries and research laboratories at national, international level to improve the quality of research as the research facilities in universities are in a nascent stage nowadays. Ph.D. the highest degree offered by universities should not be just a degree without skills which in turn creates unemployment as these doctorates do not fit in to the needs of industrial, firms and other organisations.
So, it is high time to rejuvenate education in the state of Telangana with high standards giving more funding under special quota to universities. The recent union budget (2020-21) allocated Rs.50, 000cr under National Research Foundation(NRF) for the period of 5years can bring considerable changes in core research areas like basic science, health, defence and telecommunications across India. The NRF under NEP-2020 is a good initiative focussing mainly to act as liaison between researchers and research organisations and recognising thrust areas in research and its progress in the country.
Research scholars fraternity of Telangana State question whether the government is in a position to grab the opportunity to receive more funding from central budget to utilise for the development of state universities under NRF. Since, funding under NRF depends on the demand and interest of the State governments towards enhancing laboratory facilities at State universities to create a strong culture of research that convert the innovative ideas into discoveries.
Under Atmanirbhar Bharat we have seen the results of ISRO and DRDO in developing the protection equipment's for soldiers with domestic technology. Also the Covid-19 vaccine is the greatest success which India achieved within the short period, now our country emerged as a major exporter of medicines such as from shortage of surgical masks to supplying the corona vaccine to more than 100 countries including the most developed countries like Canada, Australia, Russia, Singapore, Malaysia including Gulf countries to many underdeveloped African countries indicates that the suitable infrastructure can enhance the quality in research and developments.
The fact is that grants released from the Telangana government is not sufficient to pay the salaries of the regular employees in universities. The contract and outsourcing employees are being paid through the income generated by the university itself from miscellaneous sources. Therefore, government's priority should be to enhance the research facilities at State universities allocating sufficient grants which further paves the way to get more funding from central governments under NRF.
Students suspect the vision of the government towards higher education, neglecting the prestigious universities, they urge to clarify its special interest over establishing private universities which is cost effective. It is evident that, around 90 per cent of the poor, rural background students are concentrated in State universities because they have less access to reputed national and international academic or research institutes due to their socio-economic problems, it would be tragic for young intellectual minds to discourage them to take up research as their profession and their population in academia will be declined steadily due to dropouts.
Therefore, Telangana govt should appoint the university Vice-Chancellors immediately and fill all the vacancies of teaching and non-teaching posts. Funding of about Rs 500 crore each to the Universities in the State for the development of infrastructure can only save the university level education in Telangana. Besides providing monthly scholarships to the research scholars under minimum financial assistance, separate contingency grants for purchasing laptop and laboratory goods etc. also travel grants for attending national and international conferences is highly appreciable.
(The author is a Senior Research Fellow, Osmania University)