Research and expansion plans take a hit
The finances of the State varsities are in bad shape. With huge budget deficits hitting expansion and research activities, they turn to the government for help — an increase in block grants that could well plug the gap. No help, however, seems to be coming their way.
Vice-Chancellors have been facing tough times in managing resources and the lack of expected support from the government has forced them to scale down requirements for the creation of labs and infrastructure that are crucial to the future of these varsities’.
Figures for 2012-13 reveal that Osmania University spent Rs. 315.81 crore while the State government had released only Rs. 155.14 crore. Similarly, Andhra University spent Rs. 200.38 crore while it received only Rs. 130.37 crore; Sri Venkateshwara University incurred an expenditure of Rs. 169.82 crore but only got Rs. 76.38 crore; Kakatiya University spent Rs. 121.60 crore when the government contributed only Rs. 47.88 crore; Acharya Nagarjuna University incurred Rs. 76.61 crore and in turn got grant of Rs. 32.53 crore.
The deficit exists in other varsities as well — SKD University (Rs. 60.44 crore – Rs. 32.75 crore); B.R. Ambedkar Open University (Rs. 20.36 crore – Rs. 14.35 crore); Padmavathi Mahila University (Rs. 54.65 crore – Rs. 15.31 crore) and Potti Sriramulu Telugu University (Rs. 27.83 crore – Rs. 12.10 crore).
Grants to the new universities are far less though the fledgling institutions expected decent funding to establish and expand. All except Krishna University and Palamuru University suffer from heavy deficit.
Universities have been generating the remaining funds mainly from examination fees collected from students, affiliation fees and distance education courses where there is no limit for admissions.
However, in the last few years, funds from distance courses and affiliation fee have dried up due to the establishment of new universities in their jurisdiction.
More cuts in store?
“When universities spend nearly 70 per cent of their funds on salaries and pensions there are hardly any funds left for improving quality or research,” says a senior professor of Osmania University, who predicts that government grants will reduce further in future.
“People are increasingly questioning the contribution of varsities to the society and the government will use it as a pretext to deny funding,” says an official.
There is near unanimity on the contention that the government cannot run away from its responsibility of ensuring quality education to all. It should make varsities and teachers accountable for every penny, was the common refrain.
Varsities cannot be mere degree producing machines and they must innovate to stay relevant, administrators and teachers say.
Keywords: Osmania University, Andhra University, Sri Venkateshwara University, Kakatiya University, Acharya Nagarjuna University, SKD University, B.R. Ambedkar Open University, Padmavathi Mahila University, Potti Sriramulu Telugu University, research funds, university funds