Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) expresses its shock and dismay over the reports that the UGC may grant autonomous status to St. Stephen’s College. The DUTA has written to the UGC today in this regard opposing any move to fragment and privatise Delhi University. The DUTA has also written to the MHRD reiterating its demands.
Teachers have been boycotting evaluation work of undergraduate courses since 9 May 2018. Policy assault in the form of Scheme of Autonomous Colleges, Graded Autonomy and subversion of reservation policy by 5 March letter has exercised teachers. Teachers and students have been protesting for past several months against these policy assaults. However, it seems that the Government is moving ahead on its agenda of turning colleges and universities of repute into teaching shops through the scheme of Autonomous Colleges and Graded Autonomy. And 60 educational institutions including 5 Central Universities and 21 State Universities were given financial in the month of March.
The Scheme of Autonomous Colleges and Graded Autonomy, which is a push towards self-financing schemes and online courses, will have far reaching consequences for higher education, changing its objectives and purpose especially in a country like ours. While the academic autonomy of universities has been snatched away allowing a non-academic body such as the UGC to impose examination system, course curricula in the garb of a CBCS, the so-called autonomy is being thrust upon the university and college administration to expand self-financed courses and self-financed research and to determine fees for the purpose of gradual greater reliance on internal revenue generation. Privatisation of public funded institutions will hit badly the educational prospects of students coming from marginalised sections and women students. Even the middle-class families will find it difficult to send their children for higher education.
“Teachers and students are exercised about fragmentation and privatisation of Delhi University and gave been protesting for last few months. Government’s indifference to the feedback of the stakeholders has pushed teachers to boycott evaluation to protest against this policy assault. We have written to the UGC and the MHRD against any furtherance on the matter. We warn the Government against this anti-education and anti-people move.Teachers and students are exercised about fragmentation and privatisation of Delhi University and gave been protesting for last few months. Government’s indifference to the feedback of the stakeholders has pushed teachers to boycott evaluation to protest against this policy assault. We have written to the UGC and the MHRD against any furtherance on the matter. We warn the Government against this anti-education and anti-people move.” said Prof. Rajib Ray, President of DUTA.
DU Colleges are being pressurised to become autonomous under the said scheme. Despite widespread protests by the academic community, including a protest march by more than fifteen thousand students and teachers on 28 March 2018, UGC has gone ahead and organised two meetings with Principals, the last one on 27 April 2018.
Thus far the management of only one college, namely St. Stephen’s College, has sought autonomous college status without taking the opinions of the teachers and students into account. The teachers and students have made submissions to the Committee that visited the College.
DUTA demands that any furtherance of the autonomy schemes be suspended till the matter is honestly and rigorously debated and the performance of the autonomous colleges reviewed. Further, The DUTA demands assurance that DU will not be fragmented and privatised.
Another issue which has disturbed the teaching community is the 5 March UGC notification. The UGC Notification of 5 March 2018 directing universities to implement the Reservation Roster Department/Subject-wise for teaching posts has caused the process of permanent appointment to come to a halt. This process had started following the intervention of the Delhi High Court and had barely taken off. The notified change in reservation roster will lead to a drastic slowdown in fulfilling the Constitutionally mandated reservation percentages of 15% for SCs, 7.5% for STs and 27% for OBCs. Even as the UGC and the MHRD have filed petitions seeking its review because of opposition, however, however, the UGC Notification of 5 March 2018 has not been withdrawn/suspended. Consequently, the High Court-ordered process of permanent recruitments to fill thousands of vacant posts across colleges and departments has immediately been brought to a halt. The renewal of the tenure of thousands of ad hoc teachers in July 2018, when the new academic session starts, could be in jeopardy if the Roster based on the institution as a unit is not followed.
DUTA demands that the UGC Notification of 5 March 2018 is withdrawn urgently, and the process of permanent recruitment on the basis of posts already advertised as per the 200-point Reservation Roster based on college/university as a unit is resumed.
The DUTA has been forced to give a call for evaluation boycott. It appeals to students and parents to lend support to the struggle to save Delhi University and its colleges as institutions of affordable quality education.