Teachers from various universities across the national capital including JNU, Jamia, IGNOU and Ambedkar today joined the ongoing agitation by DU faculty members in protest against the new UGC criteria to ascertain their academic performance.
DU teachers have been boycotting the evaluation of undergraduate exams for last eleven days against amendments to UGC regulations that, they argue, will lead to job-cuts to the tune of 50 per cent and drastically increase pupil-teacher ratio in higher education.
Joining the protest today were teachers Associations of Jamia, IGNOU and Ambedkar University besides JNU Students Union along with other students organisations such as AISA, AISF, CYSS, DSU, NSUI, and SFI.
“A fund-granting authority has no right to effect unilateral changes in the number and proportion of lectures, tutorials and practicals as it constituted an attack on the academic autonomy of the varsities.
“Moreover, each university has its own special character and needs and the mindless, bureaucratic mechanism laid down in the Academic Performance Indicators (API) could not be applied to all,” Gopal Pradhan, member of Ambedkar University Teachers Association said at a joint press conference.
Musser Ahmad from Jamia said, “the sharp increase in the workload by excluding tutorials and counting only half the practicals in the teaching hours, that would lead to massive retrenchment and degradation in the quality of teaching, learning and research”.
Ajay Mahurkar(IGNOUTA) alleged “the UGC amendment is an attack on academic freedom and creativity by the stipulation of publishing only in UGC-prescribed journals. This would adversely affect research in critical, non-mainstream areas, and could be used to manipulate content and suppress inconvenient and dissident voices”.
The new gazette notification has increased the workload for assistant professors from 16 hours of “direct teaching” per week (including tutorials) to 18 hours, plus another six of tutorials, bringing the total up to 24 hours. Similarly the work hours of associate professors have been increased from 14 to 22.
While the HRD Ministry had last week defended the new UGC criteria for Academic Performance Indicators for college and university teachers, saying it provides “more flexibility” even as it ruled out any possibility of reduction in number of teaching jobs, it has instructed the UGC to review the same.
The University Grants Commission has decided to organise a consultation with stakeholders including representatives from teachers associations across the country over the issue on June 6.