The Union education ministry has extended the tenure of Parthasarathi Chakrabarti as officiating director of IIEST Shibpur for six months a second time, drawing protests from a section teachers.
The five-year tenure of Chakrabarti had ended on May 9, following which he received the first extension as officiating director.
The teachers said they want immediate appointment of a full-term director because the officiating director is not authorised to initiate the process of recruitment of teachers.
“About 35 per cent of the 300-odd sanctioned teaching posts at the IIEST are vacant,” said a member of the teachers’ association at the institute. “This, at a time when the institute has witnessed a jump in student intake.”
The teachers said a fresh extension of Chakrabarti’s term as officiating director would mean a further delay in the recruitment process, disrupting the teaching-learning exercise.
“The absence of a full-term director is coming in the way of recruitment of teachers. Chakrabarti could not initiate any recruitment process in the past six months because he is not authorised to do so. The next six months will be the same. We want a full-term director so the recruitment process is started at the earliest,” said Tapendu Mandal, secretary of the teachers’ association.
“We heard that the interview for the appointment of the next full-term director was held in April. We don’t know why it is taking the ministry so long to announce a name.”
A communication from the education ministry to Chakrabarti and the IIEST’s acting registrar, Hari Prasad Sharma, on November 13 says: “The competent authority has approved to allow Prof. Parthasarathi Chakrabarti to hold temporary charge of the post of director of IIEST, Shibpur,… for a further period of six months (beyond 8.11.23) or till appointment of regular director or until further order, whichever is earlier.”
IIEST teachers had in February written to the then chairman of the institute’s board of governors about the “abnormal delay” in the faculty recruitment process, triggering “great disappointment”.
“Later, 30-odd teachers were recruited on the basis of the screening that was held during Chakrabarti’s tenure as full-term director. We need at least 70 more teachers. If a permanent director is not appointed, the vacant posts can’t be filled,” said Mandal.
A teacher said that apart from hampering the teaching-learning process, the vacancy is affecting the institute’s standing because ranking agencies such as the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) consider teacher-student ratio an important factor while awarding scores.
The institute over the past two years has ranked 66th in the overall category in the NIRF, well below Calcutta and Jadavpur universities, which are among the top 15 institutes in the country.
In 2021, IIEST had ranked 46th in the same category.
“Currently, the teacher-student ratio at the IIEST is close to 1:20. The education ministry wants the ratio to be 1:12. The ratio is bound to decline further following obstacles in teacher recruitment despite a surge in student intake. And that will trigger a further slide in ranking,” the teacher said.