In yet another move necessitated by the State’s worsening financial crisis, the government has decided to act tough against State universities that have been following the practice of ‘protecting’ pay received from a previous job.
While previous attempts to abolish the practice have remained futile, the Higher Education department has now given an ultimatum to Kerala, Mahatma Gandhi, Calicut, and Kannur universities to amend their statutes within three months to remove the provision that permits pay protection.
The particular ‘loophole’ in the statutes allows teachers recruited to teaching departments in universities from aided or government colleges, and to government colleges from aided colleges through the Kerala Public Service Commission to retain the salaries they used to receive earlier.
As a result, associate professors of government and aided colleges who earn over ₹1.5 lakh are permitted to retain their salaries even after their appointments as assistant professors in universities. Such appointees also benefit through the higher superannuation age of 60 years compared to that of college teachers (56 years).
A circular issued by the Higher Education department observes that the regulations laid down by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) enable considering one’s previous service for direct appointments and faculty promotion under the Career Advancement Scheme. However, they do not make any mention of protecting the appointees’ previous salaries.
Considering such circumstances, the Finance department had a few years ago clarified that the provisions did not mandate such pay protection. It had also issued an order in 2021 that any salary enhancements received on the basis of the practice would be cancelled and that such benefits would be recovered. However, the order was soon frozen following opposition raised by teachers’ organisations.
The present move, which is likely to earn the ire of large sections of the teaching community and also attract litigation, can pave way for a scenario wherein teachers holding vast teaching experience harbour second thoughts while applying for university posts for fear of settling for lower pay scales than their existing ones.