Karnataka state universities yearn for staff, better infrastructure – The New Indian Express

With a rise in the number of colleges, Karnataka — that had a couple of universities a few decades ago — had to carve out new universities.
Published: 26th September 2022 06:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th September 2022 06:32 AM   |  A+A-
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The Karnataka government passed the Karnataka State Universities (Amendment) Bill to create seven more new universities — at Bidar, Haveri, Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Ballari, Kodagu and Bagalkote. This takes the number of universities to 30 across the state.

With a rise in the number of colleges, Karnataka — which had a couple of universities a few decades ago — had to carve out new universities. Karnataka is one of top states preferred by students from across the country, and some even outside India. It is also one among the top states to add more new colleges every year.
By contrast, these government universities lack infrastructure, face shortage of teaching and non-teaching staff, and even face quality of education. The Karnataka State Universities Act was passed 22 years ago. “It was relevant then, but things have changed. Therefore, we are bringing in the Karnataka State Public Higher Education Institutions Bill as well as Karnataka State Private Higher Education Institutions Bill”, said Higher Education Minister Dr CN Ashwath Narayan.
Team TNIE looks into the status of existing universities across the state.
The state’s only University of Horticultural Science in Bagalkot is dealing with many issues, including shortage of teaching and non-teaching staff, lack of infrastructure and funds to conduct research and pay bills for administrative expenses. A total of nine horticultural colleges are operating under UHSB. The activities of the university have spread across 26 districts of the state. Dr K M Indresh, Vice-Chancellor of UHSB, said, “The varsity is facing at least 40 per cent shortage of teaching staff alone, which is affecting academic activities. We have asked retired professors to conduct classes.”
The state’s only women’s university is in bad shape, and not different from other universities of the state. Even after two decades, many science departments are yet to have permanent teaching staff. It offers 32 postgraduation courses and colleges across the state. The university lacks funds to carry out research works and develop infrastructure on the main campus. “We have brought this to the notice of the government but did not receive proper response,” said Vice-Chancellor BK Tulasimala.
Of 248 sanctioned posts for teaching staff, 129 posts are vacant. As per norms, there should be one Professor, two Associate Professors and four Assistant Professors in each department. None of the 39 departments of Gulbarga University meet this criteria. Recently, it was in the news for appointing ineligible people as evaluators for papers of graduate students. Vice-Chancellor Prof. Dayanand Agasar said that for over 15 years now, there has been no recruitment in the university. At present, 247 guest teachers work here.
The only folklore university in the country, it is located at Gotagodi in Haveri district, and was established in 2011. In the past 11 years, the state government has not recruited a single staffer. From the vice-chancellor to the office clerk, they are either deputed here on hired on contract basis. Many contract-based workers allege they are not given a proper salary, and there are pending funds for contract employees’ salaries. Students show interest in gaining admission here, but due to lack of facilities, some return to other varsities or private colleges to pursue their master’s degree.
At Karnatak University, there is a prolonged problem with regard to recruitment. For the past few years, the varsity has been running the show with half its sanctioned staff strength, both teaching and non-teaching. The shortage of teaching staff is made up for by part-time or contract-based lecturers, and recently, they commenced a protest demanding a hike in payment. The varsity also faces lack of grants for infrastructure.
While universities in Bengaluru are relatively older and well-established, they face their own share of trouble. “Bangalore University has a system in place for faculty, so if there is a shortage, it is immediately filled with guest faculty. As of now, departments are functioning, but some have had to hire guest faculty due to retirement age being hit. However, we have heard that Bengaluru City University and Bengaluru North University have been facing issues with hiring faculty as they are newer universities,” said a non-teaching staff of Bangalore University, who wished to remain anonymous.
BU has also been cloaked in controversy, with allegations related to mismanagement of funds, failure to promote and frictions between vice-chancellors and Syndicate members. The university saw delays in appointing a vice-chancellor due to a Supreme Court case over discrepancies in the appointment of former vice-chancellor Prof K R Venugopal. The issue cropped up due to the Karnataka Governor’s failure to take the agreement of the state government in appointing the vice-chancellor.
Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences has also been involved in controversy, with allegations against its registrar Dr Ramakrishna Reddy for holding five different positions and drawing salaries for all positions, with a complaint currently filed with the Lokayukta. Sources from Karnataka Samskrit University said that while most positions have been filled, the university is still operating with 80 per cent staff. The university was also in the midst of controversy earlier this year, after being granted Rs 320cr by the government.
At Mangalore University, only salaries are given by the government while all other expenses are borne by the university. There is no income. Now, this salary amount is also not being given, and there have been many temporary lecturers for the past 10 years. Earlier, the university used to get funds from the Central and State governments for providing basic infrastructure. But now it has been completely stopped to provide basic infrastructure like improvisation of the library, laboratory, sports section, IT and information technology. UGC funds were released for every project, which has stopped now. “Many teaching posts are not filled and most of the present staff are on temporary basis,” former Senate and Syndicate member M G Hegde said.
Hampi Kannada University is at present facing a financial crunch. Even guest faculty are not getting their salaries since the past four or five months. Sources from Kannada University said it’s really unfortunate to mention that Kannada University is struggling to survive due to a financial crunch. To maintain the university, they needed Rs 15 to 20 crore monthly. Many students are not getting scholarships, and guest lecturers are waiting for salaries for the past four months. Most of the buildings need to be repaired.
The oldest university of the state, the century-old University of Mysore had a total of 660 teaching posts and has only around 280 who are serving as permanent employees while other posts are vacant. The varsity is dependent fully on guest faculty members, and repeated attempts by varsity officials to the government to start the recruitment process has not been given consent, which has also cost them in getting good grade in NAAC accreditation.
Gangubai Hangal Music and Performing Arts University is no exception as it suffers from not having its own building even after the government identified two places for it. The papers are gathering dust, without proper execution. Meanwhile, the varsity has issues related to teaching faculty as most of them are temporary teaching staff, while non-teaching staff have been protesting for more than 100 days after they were sacked from their jobs, without giving a proper reason. The varsity also suffers from financial crunch.
Karnataka State Open University, established in 1992, which got re-recognition from UGC, is doing well with admissions. But the bad news is infighting between varsity officials and allegations of misappropriation of funds and irregularities, putting students in a dilemma.
(With inputs from Mahesh M Goudar from Bagalkot/Vijayapura/ Ramkrishna Badseshi from Kalaburagi/ Arunkumar Huralimath from Haveri/ Mallikarjun Hiremath from Dharwad/ Donna Eva from Bengaluru/ Divya Cutinho from Mangaluru, Kiran Balannanavar from Ballari, Karthik KK from Mysuru)
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