Till about a fortnight ago, students of Pachaiyappa’s College had several problems — lack of drinking water, no functional bathrooms on the campus and shortage of bus passes. While most of these have been sorted out, the students now have a bigger concern.

The teachers in their college, particularly those from the history and Tamil departments, seldom turn up to take classes because they are out teaching in other colleges in the city, students say.

“It has been over two months since college began but I have seen my Tamil professor just once,” a student says.

Other teachers admit the irregularity exists and it is mainly because the government has not appointed teachers in the last ten years. Most of them, therefore, are enrolled as guest lecturers in one college and as permanent faculty in another.

Every department in the college has just 12 lecturers, in place of the mandated 18. “The vacancies have never been filled, so the college runs more or less on guest lecturers,” says a lecturer.

Students say that some of the teachers come in as early as 8.45 a.m., mark their attendance for the day, and leave for another college, either in Tambaram or Chromepet, where they teach till noon. Each of them has at least three lectures in the morning but they never turn up. While some of the teachers blame it on lack of strength in classrooms, others cite financial reasons.

One such lecturer admits to teaching in two colleges since the past two years and says he does it to make up for his paltry salary. “I earn only Rs. 6,000 at Pachaiyappa’s College while the other institute pays me Rs. 10,000. Even that money is not enough to run a family of five,” the lecturer says. He says, he has tried taking morning lectures in the college but only two or three students turn up for them.

“Except for those in the science departments, the other students are irregular. Most of them come to class only by mid-day as they work till late in the evening,” the lecturer says.

Another faculty says he taught in three colleges a few years ago. “But with age catching up, I cannot run around, and so, stick to two colleges now,” says the Tamil professor. Many of his colleagues who work as guest lecturers have taken up other odd jobs in the evenings to supplement their meagre incomes, he says.