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University has moral responsibility to protect teachers’ rights, say experts

Madras varsity V-C did not allow two candidates to contest in Syndicate elections

September 16, 2022 10:20 pm | Updated 10:20 pm IST - CHENNAI

Former professors have welcomed the decision of University of Madras Vice-Chancellor S. Gowri to disallow two college principals from contesting for Syndicate elections due next week.

The university recently notified election for four vacancies from among self-financing colleges. Eight persons from the Academic Council sought to contest.

The Vice-Chancellor called for salary details as a condition to allow them to contest. Two candidates could not produce them and Mr. Gowri rejected their applications.

Some university faculty and the Association of University Teachers opposed his decision on the grounds that no objection had been raised when the teachers were inducted as members of the Council.

Former professors, however, point out that the university was bound to ensure that the faculty’s rights were protected.

P.T. Srinivasan, former head of Management Studies department at the university and a long-time member of the All India Council for Technical Education, said a similar situation had unfolded in engineering colleges following which the AICTE placed the onus of ensuring payment of prescribed salary on the State governments as they fix fee structure and the affiliating university, which approves the teachers’ qualifications.

“The AICTE was receiving complaints from teachers across the country and it decided that the affiliating university has a moral responsibility to include terms and conditions governing teachers’ in colleges,” he said.

That teachers from self-financing institutions apply to Teachers’ Recruitment Board in huge numbers despite decades of service was proof of poor working condition in these colleges, he said. Also, college professors whose rights were not protected would not be able to participate effectively in the governance of the university, he pointed out.

S.P. Thyagarajan, former Vice-Chancellor, said the university had a moral responsibility. “In principle, people who are heading a particular affiliating institutions, should follow the UGC scales of pay and other norms associated with that. The affiliating university is morally responsible for not only implementing it but also monitoring it. Then only can there be systematic reforms in the system. During our time, we had been insisting on such a requirement. I don’t know the practices in the recent past or if they were given a go by,” he said.

Fiat to varsity

Meanwhile, the Directorate of Technical Education about a fortnight ago wrote to the Registrar of Anna University to ensure that affiliated engineering colleges paid faculty salary as per the AICTE norm; return the original certificates of the faculty; and ensure that teachers were not used to solicit admissions for colleges.

DoTE’s letter was culmination of a long battle by a union of private college employees following the death in March 2020 of a faculty of Vivekananda College of Engineering for Women in Namakkal.

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