After a break for almost two months, engineering colleges re-opened on Monday and the first issue colleges face is the count – not of the students but of the faculty members. This year, there is a dire shortage of teachers in the mechanical and civil engineering fields.

“Colleges have increased their mechanical engineering seats consistently in the last few years. Most of M. Techs who apply for teaching positions have little knowledge of manufacturing or design and their communication skills are really poor,” says R. S. Kumar, principal, Velammal Engineering College. “While for Electrical Engineering, we receive nearly 150 applications for 3 faculty positions with nearly 70 per cent of them possessing decent technical and communication skills, the scene in mechanical engineering is quite bad,” he adds.

There is a 40 per cent shortage in faculty in engineering colleges, say experts. “I lose five teachers almost every year, at least two every semester. Most colleges resort to poaching teachers from other institutions. By the time a teacher is experienced enough, she goes over to another institute and we are forced to take in new people and it affects domain knowledge or communication skills,” says a principal of a self-financing college in Tambaram.

Teachers cite a variety of problems. “I was a student in this college and it is no different being a teacher. Strict rules of dress codes and ‘no-talking to male teachers’ applies to us too and the internal marks that we give to students are also changed,” says a teacher.

Teachers are promised salaries as per recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, but it rarely works out in practice, they claim. “You are also expected to shoulder many other responsibilities of management and there is no way you can be harsh with even the most indisciplined students because they are the paymasters. There is no respect, either from the students or from the management, so no body wants to teach in an engineering college,” says a teacher in a Tambaram college.

“No doubts in class”

Students have a different story to narrate. “Lecturers don’t know much so they are very strict with us. We cannot ask any doubts in class and only notes are to be followed, not textbooks,” says Aruna Sasi, a student who studies at a college on OMR.

Last year, Anna University of Technology asked all colleges to provide details of the faculty ahead of renewing their affiliation, but no such information has been forthcoming. Meanwhile, the AICTE has approved over 18 new colleges in the city which will take in at least 5,000 more students.

Violation of procedure

Anna University officials say there is no check on whether colleges adopt the mandated procedure of appointing an interview panel comprising experts and heads of department while recruiting teacher. “They often do not recruit teachers recommended by the university and appoint their own candidates at lesser salaries. The lack of quality of these faculty members becomes especially evident when they are called for evaluating papers ,” says a senior professor.

C. Thangaraj, Vice-Chancellor of the Anna University of Technology-Chennai notes that there are not many PG courses available which can equip candidates with the qualifications to teach. “There is no incentive for colleges to start these courses. . What they can do is provide proper service conditions; that is not being done.”