They meet Minister of Higher Education Palaniappan

Academics and non-teaching staff of Annamalai University met the Minister of Higher Education on Monday morning, seeking government intervention in the crisis that has engulfed the university. The university has been shut from Saturday, a varsity official said.

The university had earlier announced that the classes which were to resume on Monday had been indefinitely postponed. It also directed students to vacate hostels before Monday.

“There was no need to do that. It clearly shows the management does not care about student’s welfare,” said K. Mathialagan, joint convener of Joint Action Council, comprising members of different employee unions of the university.

A 42-member team met Minister of Higher education P. Palaniappan and Additional Chief Secretary, Higher Education Department, T.S. Sridhar. “The Minister has told us that he will ask the secretary to talk to the university management,” Mr. Mathialagan said.

A syndicate meeting of the university is scheduled for November 16, and the union members expect the intervention before that. The professors said all teaching and non-teaching staff members were ready to ensure that classes went on as scheduled.

“We are even ready to take classes outside classrooms if the management does not open the university. We had only raised our concerns about the salary cuts but had not decided on any protest, but the university was shut. This will affect many students,” said Mr. Mathialagan.

There are nearly 30,000 students pursuing various programmes in the regular stream and over 4.5 lakh students in the distance education mode, in the university.

“We will decide the further course of action at a general body meeting on Wednesday,” said R. Udaiachandran, convener, JAC. Senior academics said they had urged the Minister to look into their job security issue. According to them, the management had called a meeting of all university associations on November 7 wherein they were told that the university was facing financial crisis and they planned to cut salaries. “They told us they have been taking loans to pay salaries,” said a senior academic.

The members requested the government to look into the issue of illegal appointments made in the university.

“Since 1999, over 13,000 teachers and non teaching staff have been appointed, and the UGC norms have been violated in over half of these cases. Jobs that had never been approved by the syndicate have been filled with unqualified persons,” said a senior academic. There are 3,896 teaching faculty members and 9,434 non-teaching faculty members in the university as against the government's sanctioned strength of 860 teaching posts and 1,820 non-teaching posts.

University officials said examinations scheduled to begin from Monday have been postponed. New dates would be announced later.