Stung by the criticism that Calcutta University (CU) is diverting research grants, its authorities have decided to introduce a system to ensure that all funds for research projects are transferred to the respective departments as soon as they are released by the funding agencies, like the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the science and technology department.
Under the new system, the university will have to open a separate bank account in the name of the particular project as soon as the corresponding funding agency sends the first instalment of the grant. The department carrying out the research project will operate the account and the teacher heading the department will be given the responsibility to look after its operation.
CU officers, however, denied that the move was meant to deflect criticism on funds diversion. “We have decided on the new system because we want to expedite research work. We have been thinking of introducing such a measure to block the criticism that we are diverting research funds,” said T.K. Mukherjee, CU pro vice-chancellor, finance and administrative affairs.
Senior university officers were compelled to take the decision because of the university’s “perpetual failure” to submit utilisation certificates to the funding agencies on time and repeated warnings by them that future sponsorship will be stopped.
Sources said CU has been facing a funds crunch over the past few years because the state government had cut down on the pay packets of 2,800 employees, which added up to about Rs 65 lakh per year. To cover this deficit, the university was diverting a substantial amount of the research grant, inviting criticism from various circles. The UGC officers’ team, which visited the university last week, reportedly expressed concern over complaints of funds diversion.
Departmental heads complained that this often led to delays in releasing money for projects. So the projects themselves got delayed. “The system maintained so long by the university was very unfair, because finally, the departments are held responsible when research is not completed on time. So, we also cannot submit the utilisation certificates on schedule to the funding agencies,” said a departmental head. The utilisation certificates of more than 50 research projects have not been submitted to the respective funding agencies for years.
Teachers looking after research projects complained that deadlines could not be met owing to CU’s delay in releasing instalments of funds to them on time.