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Large-scale teaching vacancies paralyse varsities
- Blame it on red tape, but state govt cites enforcement of model code of conduct as reason for delay

Bhubaneswar, May 7: Academic and research activities in state-run universities across Odisha have been badly hit by large-scale vacancies in faculty, thanks to red tape and enforcement of the model code of conduct for polls.

Utkal University, the premier varsity of the state, has been facing an acute shortage of teachers with 110 vacancies. The situation in other universities is no better.

Higher education secretary Gagan Kumar Dhal said he was aware of the vacancies.

“We have given permission to various universities to fill up vacancies. In some cases, advertisements have been issued and the recruitment process has started. In other cases, recruitments could not be done due to enforcement of the model code of conduct for elections.”

The recruitment process will start once the model code of conduct is lifted after the elections, he said.

Sources in Utkal University said in June last year, the university had published an advertisement to recruit 51 faculty members. Around 900 aspirants had applied for the posts. However, the recruitments have been postponed till the appointment of the new vice-chancellor. The tenure of the incumbent vice-chancellor P.K. Sahoo expired on May 1. The selection process for his successor is on.

Official records say that of the 257 sanctioned posts, the premier varsity now has just 168 teachers in its 27 departments. There are about 78 professors, 48 readers and 42 lecturers teaching at the university and the number of vacant posts stand at 110. Departments such as zoology, psychology, library science, political science, physics and geography have been badly affected.

The varsity authorities have engaged a few lecturers on contractual basis. It has also been engaging guest faculties and retired lecturers to teach the students to meet the crisis.

In Ravenshaw University of Cuttack, the matter has been brought to the notice of the high court. Acting on a PIL, the court had appointed senior advocate Saktidhar Das as amicus curiae to investigate the matter and submit a report. Das had submitted the report and the high court has now sought a reply from the state government.

According to the report, Ravenshaw now has only 116 teachers as compared to its sanctioned strength of 267. Of the 23 departments, the posts of professors are lying vacant in 13. These departments are political science, physics, Sanskrit, sociology, mathematics, Odia, philosophy, English, statistics, commerce, business management, zoology, Urdu and Persian.

Registrar Padan Kumar Jena said that against the previous sanctioned strength, there were 116 teaching faculty members. Besides, 114 more posts have been sanctioned.

“Vacancies will be filled up within a couple of months,” he said.

Berhampur University also faces shortage of faculty members. There are only 107 faculty members comprising six professors, 28 readers and 73 lecturers against the sanctioned 146 posts including 18 professors, 44 readers and 84 lecturers for 1,200 students in 21 postgraduate departments and Lingaraj Law College.

“Till January, 51 posts, including 13 professors, 18 readers and 20 lecturers, were lying vacant in Berhampur University and we sought permission of the higher education secretary to sanction grants against them. But the state government has sanctioned only 15 posts, including one professor, four readers and 10 lecturers,” said vice-chancellor Dipak Kumar Behera.

The government has sanctioned to fill 15 posts in 12 postgraduate departments. Nothing has been decided on nine other departments, university sources said. These departments are botany, business administration, economics, history, home science, law, Odia, political science and zoology.

Sambalpur University is also grappling with acute shortage of teaching staff. As many as 17 professor posts, 20 reader posts and 18 lecturer posts are lying vacant in several departments.

Norms state that there should be 26 professors in its 21 departments. However, the university is running with just nine professors. At least 12 departments of the university are running without professors. These departments area chemistry, computer science and application, earth science, environmental science, history, law, library and information science, school of life science, mathematics, electronics, political science and public administration and sociology.

Vice-chancellor B.C. Barik admitted that several teaching posts were lying vacant. “We have apprised the government of the vacant posts. Moreover, the advertisement for some posts had also been published a few months ago. We will start the recruitment process after the model code of conduct is no longer in force.”

At Fakir Mohan University in Balasore, there are about 10 vacancies in the teaching faculty. “We have around 10 vacant posts of the sanctioned strength of 42. These include three professor posts (biotechnology, environment studies and applied physics and ballistic science,” said registrar Gitanjali Dash.

“We couldn’t fill the posts despite inviting applications through advertisements because suitable candidates were not available. Some of the lecturer posts are being managed with contractual faculty,” she said.

At North Orissa University in Baripada, 15 of the 42 sanctioned posts are lying vacant. Registar Madhusudan Sahu said: “An advertisement has been issued in newspapers for the vacant posts. But the recruitments could not take place because of the model code of conduct.”

Additional reporting by Priya Abraham in Bhubaneswar, Lalmohan Patnaik in Cuttack, Sunil Patnaik in Berhampur, Subrat Mohanty in Sambalpur and Sibdas Kundu in Balasore


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