Student activists, a section of the academic fraternity and political parties are up in arms against the Telangana government over the delay in appointing regular vice chancellors to the state universities. They allege that the state government is "deliberately" delaying the appointments and running the universities under the care of the civil servants (IAS officers) though it is against the University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines.
After the end of the VCsâ€™ tenure in July 2019, the Telangana government has appointed civil servants who were holding other positions in the government as in-charge VCs. Many of them have other responsibilities as well, and hence, filling faculty vacancies and research that play a major role in getting universities requisite funding have taken a backseat, academics and students say.
Earlier, this week, BJP leaders in the state met the state governor Tamilisai Soundararajan urging her to intervene to solve the issue prevailing in universities. BJP national leader Muralidahar Rao alleged that TRS government is neglecting the educational sector by promoting private universities. He added that there are more than 65% vacancies in universities and degree colleges in the state.
Academic progress being hampered
While it has been more than 18 months since the universities in the state do not have regular VCs, it was recently that Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) appointed regular VCs to Konda Laxman Bapuji Horticulture University and PV Narasimha Rao Veterinary Science Universities.
Satavahana University in Karimnagar is being run by in-charge VCs, who are IAS officers from 2015 and up. Prof Sujatha Surepally, Head of the Department (HOD) Sociology at university alleged that the university is not seeing any academic progress due lack of allocation of funds, grants and a regular VC.
Speaking to TNM, she said, "Academic institutions should be headed by academicians. Universities are not government offices to run in a certain way. An attempt is being made to favour private universities over public universities the same way that private schools have redeemed the public schools."
She added, "The state is indebted to the student fraternity as many students sacrificed their careers during the Telangana movement, believing that their unemployment would be addressed in the new state. However, it is the students and education sector that are being met with injustice here even now."
Sujatha also said that the UGC grants funds and accord recognitions based on student-teacher ratio, however, â€śsince there is no VC, and no appointments, mere buildings donâ€™t make a university. These require qualified people and research [to receive funding].â€ť
Fill staff vacancies
In a recent round table organised by Osmania University Teachers Association (OUTA) over the delay in appointment of VCs, All India Congress Committee (AICC) national spokesperson Dr Dasoju Sravan also alleged that TRS government is destroying the education system in the state.
Stalin, a research scholar and student leader of All India Students Federation leader, said, "With the in-charge VCs, itâ€™s not even nearly possible to run the universities; forget fulfilling teaching staff vacancies. The government must appoint the VCs on a regular basis and initiate the vacancy filling procedure."
"If the government had already done at least one round of recruitment in universities, this much desperation would have been not there,â€ť he added.
Suman D, a senior research scholar of political science at Hyderabad Central University, said, "How can it be called university if it does not have faculty and research? One of the main purposes of the Telangana movement was proper appointments to these positions. The government should step up and fill the vacancies."
However, it is said that the government is seriously considering completing the regular VC appointment procedure after scrutinising applications and search committee reports.
Dr Rajesh Kumar, an assistant professor currently working as contract faculty at the Department of Economics in Kakatiya University for the last five years, said that the Telangana movement has created high hopes in terms of education and employment but failed in materialising them. Speaking to TNM, he said, "The presently unemployed are students who participated relentlessly in the statehood movement, thinking it would create a bright future, but now they are left to live in uncertainty."
Current state of affairs
Presently, premier universities in the state are being run by the IAS officers. Aravind Kumar, a 1991 batch IAS officer is serving as in-charge VC at Osmania University and Mahatma Gandhi University. The officer also holds other positions. At Satavahana University, the in-charge VC is T Chiranjeevulu, a senior IAS officer, who is also pursuing Ph.D in education at Kakatiya University, Warangal.
Dr B Janrdhan Reddy IAS is appointed as the in-charge VC of Kakatiya University while Palamuru University and Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies (RGUKT) are being headed by another senior IAS officer Rahul Bojja who is also the Secretary and Commissioner of Scheduled Caste Development Department. Neetu Kumari Prasad IAS is the in-charge vice chancellor of Telangana University and Potti Sriramulu Telugu University while Vikas Raj IAS has taken charge as VC to Dr BR Ambedkar Open University (BRAOU).
Jayesh Ranjan IAS is the in-charge VC of Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) and Chitra Ramachandran IAS is heading Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University (JNAFAU) with the same designation.
According to students and activists there are around 2000 faculty vacancies across the universities. Osmania University has over 840 vacancies in its departments, while there over 280 vacancies in Kakatiya University; 232 at JNTU; over 75 at Telangana University. At Mahatma Gandhi University (MGU) 115 positions are vacant; and around 100 at Satavahana University. Palamuru University has 130 vacancies, BRAOU has 58, and Potti Sriramulu Telugu University has 100. Besides this, there are over 4,000 vacancies for teaching staff in government-run and aided degree colleges.