JNU: Academic funds cut by 58%, admissions in ‘chaos’, promotions stalled, teachers allege

JNU Teachers’ Association’s ‘The State of the University’ report says JNU’s academic calendar is ‘effectively determined’ by NTA and the CUET exam.

JNU: Academic funds cut by 58%, admissions in ‘chaos’, promotions stalled, teachers allege JNU teachers alleged that the university has been operating under three different academic calendars (Image: jnu.ac.in)
Atul Krishna | Sep 22, 2023 - 5:29 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Teachers at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have alleged that the administration has cut academic expenses, stalled promotions of teachers, and is reappointing some teachers while ignoring more deserving candidates .

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The teachers also alleged that the university has not held as many Executive Council meetings as required and has been operating under three different academic calendars since the introduction of the Common University Entrance Test (CUET).

In a report titled JNU: The State of the University, Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) said that the university received 57.8% less funds in 2021-22 than what it received in 2015-16.

While comparing the academic expenses in 2015-16 to 2021-22, JNUTA claimed that laboratory running expenses were cut by 88.7%; funds for fieldwork and participation in conferences were cut by 92.2%; funds for conducting seminars were cut by 79%; scholarships were cut by 23.7%; and total academic expenses were cut by 57.8%.

The association said that a “significant part of JNU’s infrastructure is crumbling and there are no funds available for even routine maintenance”.

JNU’s multiple academic calendars

The teachers alleged that the admission process in JNU is in a “state of chaos”. They said that the university is operating with three different academic calendars because of the insistence on outsourcing entrance examinations to the National Testing Agency (NTA), which oversees CUET.

They also said that the introduction of CUET undermined the autonomy of the university even when there was “no legal compulsion for JNU to adopt the CUET system”.

“Though many universities have been able to return to a regular calendar after the pandemic related disruptions, this has not happened in JNU – so that not one but at least three different calendars are in force, with the start of the academic year 2023-24 for different batches,” the report says.

“JNU’s academic calendar continues to be effectively determined by the National Testing Agency (NTA) rather than within the university. This is because of the insistence on using the CUET for admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in JNU, and vesting of the responsibility for conducting the PhD entrance examinations also with the NTA,” it says.

Teachers also said that the number of research students has fallen far below those of the number of undergraduate and postgraduate students due to scrapping of the MPhil course without revising the number of PhD seats.

Fewer EC meetings

The report also alleges that the university has been holding fewer Executive Council meetings than was required by its regulations.

“The number of EC meetings actually held are fewer than what the university’s regulations dictate. According to Regulation M2, the Executive Council is required to have at least four regular meetings in a year, where the notice has to be issued at least 14 days in advance and agenda papers circulated at least seven days in advance. Since February 2022, there have been only four regular meetings,” the report said.

Teachers alleged that EC decisions from previous meetings were changed in the reports presented in the next meeting and that audit reports were not shared with EC members.

Teachers also said that the new ordinance for PhD programmes in JNU was adopted “without seeking any opinion and feedback from Schools and Centres”.

Delayed promotions

The teachers alleged that several promotions of faculty have been “arbitrarily kept pending” and that the administration is not showing any urgency in eliminating the backlog of promotions.

They said that the administration keeps on appointing the same teachers to the same positions while ignoring others with more seniority.

“14 appointments of deans of different Schools of JNU have taken place since February 2022. Three of them involved the previous occupant of that office being reappointed to the same position, even for serving a third term. Another 10 cases have otherwise involved bypassing of senior colleagues in their respective schools. In other words, rotation by order of seniority has not been followed in a single case. As a result, there are now more than a 100 serving professors of the university who have not served as deans previously but have been bypassed in these appointments – 47 of them are in School of Social Sciences alone and another 38 in School of Languages and Literature,” the JNUTA report says.

It also claimed that the administration flouted statutory norms of the university and undermined the role of Centres in the faculty recruitment process. It alleged that several candidates have been denied a fair opportunity and that a “ disproportionately large number of vacancies are present” in the reserved seats. According to a statement by the education ministry in Parliament, 76 reserved seats in JNU are vacant.

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