Break in grant from the State government and nursing students’ strike are likely to dominate the Mahatma Gandhi University Syndicate meeting, which is scheduled for Monday.
The State government has not given the monthly share of grant to the University, resulting in delayed payment of salary and pension. The delay in payment earlier this month had resulted in an agitation, which was later withdrawn after the Vice-Chancellor agreed to disburse salaries from the varsity’s own funds. However, only the net salary was provided to the employees. The various deductions on account of statutory pension fund, insurance premiums and loan repayments could not be provided, owing to the financial constraints of the establishment.
There is a possibility that the issue could crop up yet again with employees failing to receive their salaries on September 28 (Saturday) or 29 (Sunday). Mahatma Gandhi University Employees Association general secretary K. Sherafudeen said the authorities were engaging in a political showdown by putting the livelihood of around 1,800 employees and nearly 500 pensioners at stake.
The association has filed a writ petition in the Kerala High Court against the government move. He also pointed out that the previous round of agitation over the issue had resulted in certain administrative difficulties including postponement of a few examinations.
Mr. Sherafudeen said that employees would be compelled to renew their agitation if the problem persisted.
Another key issue that could come up before the meeting is the strike by the students and teachers of University College of Medical Education at Thevara and Angamaly. These regional centres are facing the threat of closure due to inadequate facilities.
Interestingly, the Kerala Nurses and Midwives Council on Friday gave approval to conduct admissions to B.Sc. (Nursing) courses at all other centres of the University College of Medical Education. Given the financial situation of the University, the future prospects of the two regional centres appear bleak. The counselling for the 300 seats of B.Sc. (Nursing) course in the remaining six centres has been scheduled for October 4, said the University sources. The varsity is yet to initiate proceedings towards commencing the proposed B.A. Economics Honours programme at the Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam.
Honours degree programmes were introduced by the Higher Education department this academic year at four institutions run by various State Universities.
While all other institutions have gone ahead with the programme, Mahatma Gandhi University was yet to take necessary steps owing to various reasons including the inability to convene meetings of the Academic Council due to inadequate quorum.
Interestingly, a few Congress-leaning Syndicate members had requested to postponement the meeting citing their interest in participating in a programme that will be attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
However, the Vice-Chancellor has decided to go ahead with the meeting. But the chance of the meeting being called off on account of the possible absence of certain members cannot also be ruled out.