A California-based platform of former Jadavpur University students that is raising funds to help the cashstrapped university has contributed around Rs 7 lakh to the alma mater for buying 15 new computers for the production engineering department.
The Global Jadavpur University Alumni Foundation said on its Facebook page on Thursday: “The team has already sent funds to the university to buy 15 computers. We expect these computers to be installed soon. The laboratory (of the production engineering department) currently has 40 non-functioning computers.”
Srijoy Aditya, who is associated with the foundation and is an alumnus of the production engineering department, said they had planned to raise $100,000 (around Rs 83 lakh). The amount that has been transferred to JU was part of the corpus they were trying to raise.
The foundation has said it is in touch with the head of the department.
The head, Bijoy Bhattacharya, said they had been struggling for years with old computers that are incompatible with current software.
The students, he said, are suffering because of this. “They were being taken to laboratories of other departments so they could work, but that is hardly a solution,” Bhattacharya said.
He said they had sent the requisition for new computers to the JU authorities, but have not yet been able to buy any new machine because, he said, the university was reeling from a funds crunch.
“The funds situation has become critical following decline in support from the state and central governments. So the authorities are unable to provide funds. After the alumni foundation stepped in, the department is now in the process of buying 15 new computers. But we need more,” Bhattacharya told The Telegraph.
Vice-chancellor Suranjan Das had written to the California-based alumni foundation in October: “The government funding — state and central — is becoming extremely inadequate. I appeal to you to mobilise financial support for the university to enable it to maintain and improve the infrastructure and strengthen our ability to compete at national and international levels.”
The funds crunch has forced the university to impose a “general embargo” on spending in the 2022-23 academic year.
The departments have been told that under heads such as lab teaching, departmental research and contingencies, only 70 per cent of the budgeted amount can be spent if the annual budget is Rs 3 lakh or less.
A senior JU official said in August that a batch of former students who had graduated from the civil engineering department in 1997 had raised funds that were used to buy computers and set up a smart conference room for the department.
“Departments have no option but to approach former students because of the sorry state of funding,” he had said.
The state government had on November 23 sanctioned Rs 6 crore for JU as additional funds for maintenance, three weeks after the university had written to the education department that the reduction in grant had pushed the university “into a situation of scarcity”.
VC Das in a letter to the state government in early September had pointed out that the government had reduced grants in the 2022-23 financial year by about Rs 7.50 crore, compared with the sanctioned amount the previous year.
The university was sanctioned around Rs 32 crore in 2021-22. For 2022-23, around Rs 24 crore was sanctioned.