UGC indicates relaxation of 1:15 norm for new institutions; colleges ask for 1:20

Heads of private engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu recently wrote to the Ministry of Human Resource Development seeking relaxation of the norms for recruiting teachers.

They sought easing of norms on the existing teacher-student ratio and recruitment of engineering graduates as faculty.

UGC officials in response indicated that colleges that were functioning for three years or less could maintain a more relaxed ratio.

With an acute shortage of teachers, the recommended teacher-student ratio of 1:15 is not only difficult to implement, but also leaves many teachers with less work and is a financial burden on colleges, the principals said.

In the letter, Jeppiar, president of the consortium of Self-Financing Professional, Arts and Science Colleges in Tamil Nadu, urged the UGC to institute a ratio of 1:20. The consortium, citing reports, said that there are over 35,000 vacancies for teachers in engineering colleges and over a lakh seats were vacant in engineering colleges in 2013-14.

The UGC that recently took over regulation of engineering colleges from AICTE had asked for suggestions/ comments on the Draft Regulations on Technical and Professional Education.

“There was shortage of 26, 000 faculty in Tamil Nadu in 2002. In 2006, with just 229 colleges, it was 30,000. Now with 552 engineering colleges with a total intake of 2,73,200 seats, the shortage of staff members is expected to be very high,” Mr. Jeppiar said in the letter.

Under the 1:20 teacher-student ratio, professors will work for eight hours a week, associate professors for 13 hours and assistant professors for 16 hours, which will be ideal, said members of the consortium. “While the shortage of teachers has grown exponentially, the number of takers for engineering has come down too. Many courses have teachers but few students,” said R. Balakrishnan, professor of a private college.

The Consortium suggested that engineering graduates be recruited as pro-tem lecturers and teachers with ME/M. Tech and 10 years of experience be promoted as associate professors.

Also, it urged UGC to revise the ratio of professors, associate and assistant professors to 1:2:9 against the UGC’s 1:2:6.

“There are hundreds of engineering graduates who are left without jobs. They should be trained in subjects for first-year students and can be recruited to overcome the shortage of teachers. Also, those already in the teaching profession should be encouraged to stay on in the field through bright promotion prospects,” P.J. Joseph, professor in a private college said.

UGC officials, even while considering the request for recently-begun colleges, said the 1:15 ratio was necessary for the efficient functioning of institutions.