“Everything is in a mess (here),” remarked a senior professor of the Tamil Nadu Physical Education and Sports University (TNPESU) while detailing the difficult phase the University is going through. “There has been no Vice-Chancellor for nearly two years, no Registrar (nearly two years), no Controller of Examination (two years) and no Director of Distance Education (seven years). Everything is ‘in-charge.”
Situated in Melakottaiyur (Kancheepuram District) on a 125-acre ground, TNPESU is now in the news for all the wrong reasons. Accusations of favouritism in promoting professors and the skewed professor-student ratio, among other things, have been plaguing the institution for quite some time.
Established by the State Government in the year 2004, TNPESU started functioning in 2005 from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) complex in Chennai before shifting its campus to Melakottaiyur six years later.
Teaching staff shortage
Comprising five departments — Physical Education, Yoga, Exercise , Physiology & Bio-Mechanics, Sports Management, Sports Psychology & Sociology and Advanced Sports Training and Technology, TNPESU is facing shortage of teaching staff in each department.
It has nearly 400 students in its rolls with only 29 teaching staff including a medical doctor. Informed sources told The Hindu that recruitment of teaching staff has been put on hold till the appointment of a regular Vice-Chancellor. Though TNPESU has received 2F status which enables it to award degrees, it hasn’t got the UGC grant (to get the UGC funds (12 B status), a Dept. should have six teaching staff in each department).
All norms, according to sources, have been bypassed while promoting professors. “Here, there have been instances of people jumping to the Professor grade from Selection Grade, which is unheard of,” said a source.
In 2012, TNPESU’s alleged mismanagement of funds came to the fore. The Director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption conducted a detailed inquiry and submitted its report to the State Government, which “after careful examination of the report, ordered to initiate disciplinary action” against the then Vice-Chancellor, the then Registrar and the then Finance Officer.
While the Government said departmental disciplinary action will be taken against the then Registrar and the then Finance Officer, it has decided to pursue criminal action against the then Vice-Chancellor.
Nothing has moved
Last year, a Committee was formed by the State Government to appoint a Vice-Chancellor, but nothing has moved so far. TNPESU is now under the purview of Department of Youth Affairs and Sports Development.
A senior official, who was involved with TNPESU in an important capacity said, “Teachers don’t come to the College regularly, and sometimes bunk classes deliberately. There is no accountability.” He suggested that the only way out of the morass is to appoint a Special Officer like what the State Government did for the Annamalai University.
When The Hindu visited TNPESU campus recently, things seemed pretty alright. An inter-collegiate tournament for men and women was underway. When J. Mahadevi, a Post Graduate student, was asked what was wrong with her College, she shot back: “Nothing. The teaching is good. I am confident of getting placed.” On inspection, we found the football field to be soggy while the athletic track was not maintained properly. “Water keeps coming from under the ground. We don’t know why,” said a student.
Grace Helina, Vice-Chancellor (Officiating) said as far as placement of students is concerned, there is no cause for concern. “The Government is fully supporting us,” she asserted. “The Chief Minister has sanctioned a ‘Catch-up grant’ of Rs. 10 crore to build staff quarters, boys’ and girls’ hostels and playfield with fencing and floodlights. The Government has also sanctioned Rs. 2.20 crore for establishment of sports science centres, sports centres, sports medicine and rehabilitation.” She also said the Government has sanctioned an amount to build a multi-purpose gym and a multi-media classroom.
Grace denied the charges that the fees have increased 100 per cent all of a sudden (according to her, it has been increased only by 30 per cent after consulting and informing everyone concerned beforehand) and she rubbished the allegation that the teaching staff has been promoted unduly.
(With inputs from K. Manikandan)