Anna University has invited applications to its Ph.D programmes, but teachers in its engineering colleges might not be able to apply.

Many private colleges under the University have forbidden their teachers from joining such programmes before completing a three- or five-year tenure. “Even if a teacher has spent two years in one college and two in another, it is not taken into account,” said a teacher from a college in Kelambakkam.

Most private colleges ask teachers to surrender their academic certificates before joining. “Whenever we want to apply to another college or a Ph.D programme, we have to forego two months’ salaries. Only when we submit a cheque for the amount are our certificates returned,” said R. Manoj who teaches at a college in Karapakkam.

On the other hand, joining a Ph.D programme may not turn out to be all that satisfactory. Most private colleges, said teachers who work there, do not have basic equipment or research material to promote experimental activity. There is often no time too.

“A teacher in my college takes three theory classes and four lab sessions. There is barely time to prepare for a class leave alone anything else,” said A. Srikala of a college in Gumidipundi.

As per Anna University norms, a teacher can take a maximum of two theory classes and one laboratory session a day, but the norm is seldom followed by colleges mainly because of a shortage of teachers.

“The situation has worsened because colleges have increased the number of civil and mechanical branches. There is a great demand for teachers and they are overburdened with work,” said Ms. Srikala.

There are over 520 engineering colleges in the State, of which nearly 70 are located in and around the city. Absence of a union or association for teachers’ rights is why many feel their complaints go unheard.

“Anna University officials had come to our college for inspection last week and the management handed us our certificates so they could be verified. But soon after that was done, we were asked to return the documents. How can the University not be aware of this?” said a teacher.

A principal of a college in Sriperumbudur said colleges had to resort to such measures to retain teachers. “Poaching of faculty is common and, often, teachers change jobs for a meagre increase in salary, or to cut down on time and money spent on commute. Teachers are required to give a three-month notice before resigning. This is to reduce impromptu resignations.”

Anna University stipulates that only M.E. and M.Tech candidates be hired as teachers in colleges but some institutes appoint B.E. graduates too.

“They are on the rolls as lab technicians and paid much less than teachers. But there’s no end to the workload,” said another teacher.

Recently, a group of teachers filed an RTI petition seeking an explanation for the University’s inaction. An official said there was no rule which stated that colleges should confiscate certificates of teachers.

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