Thousands of teachers on Delhi Streets over reduced funding to govt universities

Thousands of teachers on Delhi Streets over reduced funding to govt universities
Abhay Anand | Feb 19, 2018 - 3 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI, FEB 17: More than eight thousand students, teachers, and other staff members marched together from Mandi House to MHRD in New Delhi. They are miffed over the new 30-70% funding formula, by which Central Universities are expected to generate 30% of the financial burden on account of the 7th Pay Revision. The protesters have called this move the most retrograde recommendations of the MHRD notification on Pay Revision.

The teachers from these universities have claimed that it will immediately affect not only the disbursement of salaries but will force universities to raise funds through student fees and the introduction of self-financing courses which will lead to rampant commercialization. “Equally dangerous is the intention to reduce funds for the State Universities who have been allocated only 50% of central assistance and that too for a reduced period of 39 months as opposed to 80% for 51 months in the last pay revision,” said DUTA.

This year’s allocation to the UGC in the Union Budget has further decreased. Grants to public funded institutions including Universities, IITs and IIMs for infrastructural needs are being replaced by loans to be disbursed through the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA). This major policy shift in funding will result in massive fee hike for students on one hand and delay in implementation of 7th Pay Revision, appointments and promotions.

Teachers and students are also agitated about the Regulations on Autonomous Colleges and Graded Autonomy recently gazetted on 12 February 2018. In total disregard of the feedback given by teachers' unions, the Government has gone ahead with the scheme. According to them, this is yet another way to turn public funded institutions of repute into teaching shops.

Many of the academicians who took part on the protest march are of the view that the increasing thrust towards commercialization will make public funded education expensive and adversely impact its quality. Higher fees will increase the economic burden on parents and students and put education out of the reach of students from economically and socially marginalized sections of our society as well as women. It will also make education of the basic and core areas of humanities, social sciences and sciences unsustainable.

With over 50% of Indian population below 25 years of age, withdrawal of public funding from education, especially Higher Education, will cost the country and its youth dearly, turning India into a market for cheap labour.

The Joint Rally of DUTA, DUCKU, DUSU and other students’ organizations was also joined by FEDCUTA and AIFUCTO. Teachers and students of AUD, JNU, Jamia, Aligarh Muslim University, IGNOU as well as teachers from Punjab and Uttaranchal joined the Rally under the banner of the AIFUCTO and FEDCUTA.

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