10% EWS Reservation: Will Hurry spoil the Curry?

Abhay Anand | Feb 13, 2019 - 1:28 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 12: The Parliament of India, through the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act, has paved way for 10 per cent reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) categories in education and jobs. The Government of India within a week issued orders for implementation of Reservation in admission to Central Educational Institutions (CEIs), from the upcoming academic session 2019-20. This order has sparked a debate in the academic circle raising questions over the hasty implementation of Reservation in CEIs. The most important being the shortage of faculty in central universities and with more students entering the education system and further straining the existing system.

10% EWS reservation- seat formula
The Act mandates reservation for EWS categories would be provided without disturbing the existing entitlements for SC/ST and OBC categories. Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar, while speaking to reporters in Delhi said, “The reservation will be implemented from the 2019-2020 academic session itself. Nearly 25 per cent seats will be added to ensure that the reservation does not disturb the existing quota for SC, ST and other categories.”

The above reservation implementation will require more than 2 lakh additional seats in CEIs. Bigger universities like the University of Delhi (DU) and Banaras Hindu University (BHU)will have to add over 16,000 and 11,000 more seats; similarly, for universities like Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Visva Bharati will increase 346 and around 822 more seats, respectively.

Faculty Shortage at Central Universities
Already facing a 40 per cent faculty shortage, the Central universities are further stressed after the University Grants Commission (UGC) put further appointments on hold since July 2018. The appointments have been put on hold due to row over department-wise roster system for reservation of faculty positions implementation. The issue is unlikely to simmer down soon with MHRD planning to file a review petition in the Supreme Court against its recent order.

A data presented by the Ministry in the Parliament paints a dismal picture of the situation. Of the total faculty positions lying vacant, 53.86% are Professors, and 45.34% and 21.87% are Associate and Assistant Professors respectively. All Professor positions at Central University of Haryana and Central University of Odisha are lying vacant.

Faculty Shortage in Central Universities:

Professsor

2495

1151

1344

Associate Professor

4940

2700

2240

Assistant Professor

10,111

7899

2212

GRAND TOTAL

17,546

11,750

5796

In this already stretched situation, adding more seats will further burden the existing faculty which would ultimately affect the quality of education being imparted in these institutions.

Faculty scenario
At present, there are 41 Central Universities in the country, the MHRD has sanctioned 17,546 teaching posts, which include 2495 (Professors), 4940 (Associate Profs) and 10,111 (Asst Profs). As per the UGC prescribed norm of faculty-student ratio, at the post-graduate level it is mandatory for Universities to have at least one teacher for every 10 students for science, and media and mass communication studies, and one teacher for every 15 students of social sciences, humanities and commerce.
UGC prescribes teacher-student ratio of 1:25 for the science stream and 1:30 for social sciences, at the Under Graduate level.

Under Graduate level

Teachers-Student Ratio

Social Sciences  1:30
Sciences   1:25
Media & Mass Communication 1:15
   
Post Graduate level  
Humanities/Social Sector 1:15
Commerce & Management  1:15
Science  1:10
Media & Mass Communication 1:10

Adding 25 per cent more students to the existing system would require a similar increase in the number of faculty members, which is unlikely to happen soon.
One of the former Vice Chancellors of a CU, on condition of anonymity, said, “Teachers are already overburdened with 1:25 formula in the technical education, full-time appointments in many of the universities have not happened for years. Delhi University is being run by ad-hoc teachers, no appointment is happening. Forcing universities to implement EWS quota from this year will only harm the education system. It would have been better had the government given some time for the universities to come up with the plan for implementing this scheme.”

How OBC Reservation was implemented
The MHRD has asked for plans from universities to implement the EWS Reservation, that include the requirement of funds for implementing the scheme. Many universities, on receiving letters from the Ministry and the UGC, have started to work on their seat matrix and financial requirements. It could have also take a cue from the OBC Reservation mandated in 2006. To ensure that seats for other categories are not adversely impacted, first the seats in all the HEIs were increased by 54 per cent and the expansion was implemented in a phased manner, till 2012 in some of the institutions. The Centre also allocated additional funds to the tune of Rs 2,166.89 Crore to central universities and Rs 4,227.46 Crore to centrally funded technical institutions (IITs, NITs, etc) for implementing the OBC quota.

Funding woes
The MHRD has asked for expenditure from the universities in implementing the EWS Reservation, however, it is not clear whether this money will be allocated as a grant in one go for creating infrastructure or will be given over a period of time. The universities are also doubtful that whether they will have to take money from the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) as a loan, in that scenario it will create an extra financial burden on them.

In the Interim Budget 2019-20, the total outlay for higher education has been raised by 6.9% from Rs 35,010.29 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 37,461.01 crore, a rise of Rs 2,450.72 crore.

The Interim Budget has made some provision for implementing 10% EWS Reservation with Rs 4,276.00 crore in revenue section and Rs 300 crore as the capital section for higher education institutions and for providing equity support to HEFA. There is a lack of clarity on how this fund will be split between the EWS Reservation implementation and the equity support to the HEFA.

For the Central Universities, the Government has budgeted Rs 6,604.46 crore in the ‘Vote On Account’, a small increase of Rs 105.91 crore over the revised estimate for 2018-19. Interestingly, there has been a reduction in allocation for funding to higher education regulators and other agencies. A total of Rs 4,600 crore has been earmarked in the interim budget 2019-20, marginally less than the current financial year’s revised estimate of Rs 4,687.23 crore.

Other Problems

It is not just the faculty shortage which will prove to be a major hurdle in implementing the 10% EWS Quota, there are issues related to infrastructure and other facilities as well. Most of the Central Universities announced in the past decade are yet to put all their infrastructure in place. Some of the universities announced in past few years are running out of their transit campus with two of them running some courses in multiple shifts due to space crunch. The Mahatma Gandhi Central University in Motihari, Bihar operates out of an abandoned girls’ hostel of a district school. It runs several programmes in two shifts and it was only due to lack of space that the university did not admit any student in the UG courses last semester. Therefore the Government needs to sit with the stakeholders (institutions) to understand their concern and the time they need to put things in place for implementing the Reservation.


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