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Funds gripe in Presi report

Presidency University’s mentor group has lauded the government for helping recruit 50 “excellent” teachers for the institution but expressed disappointment at the lack of clarity on the financial assistance it will provide.

“We are disappointed to note that no follow-up action was taken on a proposal from the vice-chancellor, specifically sought by the principal secretary, higher education, in January 2012 for an allocation in the range of Rs 200 crore for Presidency University. This needs to be clarified,” the mentor group said in its third report in little over a year.

The mentor group, led by Harvard University professor Sugata Bose, had called for a special grant of Rs 200 crore in its second report last February. It said the money would be used to construct an academic building and upgrade infrastructure.

But finance minister Amit Mitra, an alumnus of Presidency College, made no separate allocation for his alma mater in the state budget tabled in March.

The 16-page third report of the mentor group warned that the lack of a commitment from the government on the quantum of special financial assistance — the combined allocation for higher education in the current fiscal is Rs 240 crore — could prove detrimental to Presidency’s progress.

“We need clarity from the state government on the extent to which it will be able to support the infrastructure development needs of Presidency University between now and the 200th anniversary in January 2017,” states the report, posted on the mentor group’s website on Thursday afternoon.

Chairman Bose said Presidency could generate funds on its own only after knowing the government’s stand. “We are hopeful that the government will respond to our appeal and clarify its stand. We are looking forward to the government’s generous help, which is very crucial for shaping Presidency as a centre of excellence,” he told Metro.

The mentor group appreciated the “promptness” with which the government helped the university complete the recruitment of 50 faculty members, for whom it has recommended higher pay than what most universities give.

The minimum total pay recommended for Distinguished University Professors is Rs 1,60,000 per month, which is about Rs 40,000 more than the monthly salary of a vice-chancellor of a state-aided university in Bengal. Distinguished University Professors — five posts have been sanctioned — should get annual increments of five to seven per cent, the third report says.

The mentor group has suggested that 15 of the current whole-time professors be redesignated department-based Heritage Chair Professors with salaries higher than their existing scales but lower than that of the Distinguished University Professors.