What the UGC Gazette Notification 2016 Portends for the State of Higher Education in India: Rina Ramdev and Debaditya Bhattacharya

This is a guest post by RINA RAMDEV AND DEBADITYA BHATTACHARYA

The much-debated API (Academic Performance Indicator) system, linking promotions of faculty members in Indian universities/colleges to a quantifiable assessment of their performance, was introduced by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in its 2010 Regulations. Since then, there has been mounting resistance and discontent among massive sections of the teaching community – forcing the UGC to withdraw the said assessment framework for a while in 2013, before reintroducing it across institutions of higher education. However, over the years, the ire of protesting teachers has translated into a sustained critique of the API system and its failure to account for the infrastructural inadequacies of public institutions as adversely impacting the promotion prospects of thousands of teachers across the country.

It was rightly argued that a point-based appraisal pattern reduces teaching as an adventure of ideas into a standardised set of visible-verifiable outcomes and deliverables, expending in this, the necessary surplus of every academic encounter. The clock-timed hours of classroom-teaching – convertible into digits and decimals – were not only incommensurate to the disaggregation of thought beyond workdays and work-hours, but also insisted on a corporate-model professionalism limiting the exact interface between the teacher[-as-service-provider] and the student[-as-client].

The perils of quantification notwithstanding, the API system practically sought to make teaching a redundant exercise in terms of ‘necessary qualifications’ for faculty promotions. With a lucrative price-tagging of the ‘value’ of research activities conducted by individual teachers outside of teaching-schedules and the consequent structures of waging intellectual productivity through the numbers of projects and publications, the API contributed to a voiding of the classroom in undergraduate colleges in many parts of the country. Forced to prove her/his levels of productivity as the most essential claim to survival and growth within the field, the teacher needed but little to do by way of engaging students. And yet, on the contrary, the government persisted with its policy of withdrawing research grants and forcing research organisations to look for alternative sources of funding to sustain their work. Consequently, teachers have been infrastructurally forced into producing dubious research in the cause of ‘career advancement’, self-funding their way into business-rackets parading as scholarly platforms.

Conference coteries branched out like neighbourhood pandals with open-to-all subscription-routines, and citational pledges gave birth to kinship-alliances with a crass mechanising of the ‘impact factor’. In all of this, what suffered the most was the state of undergraduate education – thus diminishing the relevance of public institutions in popular perception, and aiding their systematic destruction in the cause of advocating whole-scale privatization. While demanding research output from teachers as a ‘minimum’ requirement for promotion, the UGC chose to ignore the state of infrastructural collapse and the acute resource-crunch that most state-run colleges in India suffer from – where teachers often lack seating-space in staffrooms, let alone dedicated work-space or research facilities. When, in the cause of promotion prospects, these teachers therefore decided to fight for berths in conference schedules than inside the staffroom, the ‘biometric’ baton of attendance was threateningly brandished.

And then, predictably enough – with the dramatic flourish of bureaucratic finality! – came a Committee.

In July 2015, the Ministry of Human Resource Development constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Prof. Arun Nigavekar to conduct an “evaluation of the Academic Performance Indicator (API) Scheme as regards the entry point and career advancement of teachers by taking into account its criticism and suggest suitable improvements/alternatives”, among other issues.

But, instead of its declared aim of suggesting “improvements/alternatives” to the API, the Committee – which is reported to have submitted its recommendations to the regulatory body earlier this year – proposed a host of aggravations that not only legitimised the existing system of performance-based career advancement, but also made it far more unequal and irrational. The Gazette Notification of the Third Amendment to UGC Regulations 2010 — dated May 10, 2016 — incorporates the Nigavekar Committee recommendations with regard to both direct recruitment of teachers and API-linked promotion policy. A close reading of the Amendment notification, in the light of the original Principal Regulations 2010 as well as subsequent Amendments of 2011 and 2013, serves out an ominous foreboding for the state and status of teaching jobs in the country as also for research. Subsequently, the DUTA (with support from other teachers’ associations across the country) launched a powerful movement against the Amendment notification and issued a call for a complete evaluation boycott in Delhi University centres. The overwhelming success of the movement and its mobilizations jolted the MHRD into first offering a ‘clarification’ and then a public statement dated May 26, 2016. In what follows as an attempted reading of the Amendment and the government’s consequent responses, one may hope to find an answer to the question: does the Nigavekar Committee, in avowedly setting out to review the API system, try to remedy the latter’s ill-effects on teaching and research – or, does it rather seek to systemically delegitimize both teaching and research activities within institutional spaces by further entrenching the API?

  • Clause 15.1 of the UGC Regulations 2010 (under the Section titled “Workload”) categorically maintains that the “direct teaching-learning process hours per week” will be 16 for Assistant Professors and 14 for Associate Professors/Professors, whereas Appendix III Table I of the same document (detailing the distribution of API scores for “Teaching, Learning and Evaluation Related Activities”) explains in ‘Note a’ that “lectures and tutorials allocation [are] to add up to the UGC norm for particular category of teacher”. For all legal and policy purposes hence, this implies that the “UGC norm” is as specified in Clause 15.1, and that both “lectures and tutorials” must be counted as direct teaching-learning contact hours to be included within the specified workload norm. Accordingly, colleges and universities across the country followed the 16/14 hour time-table pattern as inclusive of tutorial periods. It needs mentioning here that owing to student enrolments exceeding maximum intake-limits alongside the infrastructural paucity of space/resource, the tutorial sessions originally envisioned with groups of 4-6 students, now effectively include between 16 to 20 members thus qualifying as full-fledged teaching workload.

The Third Amendment Notification of 2016 performs a curious sleight of calculation here. While keeping the “UGC norm” spelt out in Clause 15.1 of the Principal Regulations unamended, it overhauls Appendix III Table I of the API-based promotion scheme and deviously adds a new tally of “Direct teaching work load…to be given to different levels of teachers”. This new insertion does two things. First, it increases the “Direct Teaching Hours per week” (in obvious contravention of Principal Regulations 15.1) to 18+6 (=24) for Assistant Professors, 16+6 (=22) for Associate Professors and 14+6 (=20) for Professors. Second, it goes on to explain that tutorials can no longer be deemed as class hours, though they must by default be included in official workload computations as a separate 6-hours-per-week bracket for every teacher. As a result, the recent Amendments effectively propose the upper limit of 24/22/20 hours of “direct teaching workload” to be reflected in official time-tables, thus leading to an average of at least 50 percent increase in computational workload arithmetic. Practical classes have been halved in terms of weightage, as compared to lectures, thus promising an even steeper change in workload within science departments.

The obvious (and clearly intended) fallout of this will be that nearly 50 percent of the existing teaching workforce in all universities will be rendered redundant henceforth, thus drastically curtailing the numbers of sanctioned posts or vacancies. Of course, the worst affected will be the ad-hoc or contractual teachers – a prodigious community of migrant teaching labour, already deprived of professional entitlements and often the basic right to human dignity — who will, in one fell swoop, be eliminated from colleges/universities on account of the unavailability of workload.

The conjecture that the current prescriptions of workload are flexible upper limits which empower colleges to keep lower cut-offs is absolutely futile, since the Amendment also mentions that for Assistant Professors the hourly tally of ‘direct teaching’ holds 100 percent weightage. Any teacher working on an “official timetable” of lower class numbers than 24 will risk an adverse impact on promotions, in terms of API scores for Category I.

While ‘Note 4’ under Category I of the same Appendix still continues to maintain that “lectures allocation [mark the deletion of the word ‘tutorials’ here!] to add up to the UGC norm for particular category of teacher”, one wonders how a ‘norm’ mandated by the Principal Regulations can be changed through sly insertions within an Appendix.

  • The deliberate erasure of the word “tutorials” in the above Note serves an important ideological function. Incidentally, the bi-partitioning of “direct teaching hours” through an additional 6-hours-per-week fixture for every category of teachers needs explanation in this context. ‘Note 2’ under Category I of the Amendment clarifies: “6 hours per week include the hours spent on tutorials, remedial classes, seminars, administrative responsibilities, innovation and updating of course contents”.

This means that even as these 6 hours of fixed workload must be mandatorily computed and reflected in time-tables as ‘tutorials’ or ‘remedial classes’ allotted to every teacher, they can effectively be used up for non-instructional purposes like administrative work and course-updation etc. Such a measure goes on to institutionally delegitimize and informalise the pedagogical purpose of ‘tutorials’, originally designed as a closer interface between teachers and students in order to address the problem of dismal student-teacher ratios in most colleges. The tutorials are crucial interims facilitating rigorous practice-oriented teaching in groups smaller than a classroom lecture allows — aimed primarily at helping students from socially deprived sections who require focused guidance. The tutorial-system is a mechanism tested over time — one that has helped students struggling with the truncated learning time bequeathed by ill-planned reforms like Semesterization and CBCS. Further, it has served to inscribe an ethic of mutuality through discussions and academic interactions outside of monologic lecture-based curriculum-patterns.

The informalisation of ‘tutorials’ through the UGC Amendment of 2016 ends in a strengthening of the WTO-GATS model of higher education as service-providing exercise, requiring no commitments outside of impersonal spaces of transactional exchange between students and teachers. It further seeks to widen the gap between students coming with differential histories of social privilege, by re-entrenching the logic of merit as a priori inheritance.

Furthermore, technically speaking, while the Amendment encourages a teacher to trade time-tabled tutorial hours for “administrative responsibilities [and] innovation and updating of course contents”, they may be claimed points for in Category I under the head of “Lectures – Classroom Teaching”. The teacher will also be allowed to factor these same hours of ‘administrative’ and ‘course-updation’ routines within Category II b (titled “Contribution to Corporate life and management of the department and institution through participation in academic and administrative committees and responsibilities”) and II c (titled “Professional Development activities”).

  • If Clause 15.1 remains as the “UGC norm” for workload calculations for teachers, there is an interesting aporia to be noticed in the Second Amendment dated 13 June 2013. Here again, without any reference being made to the original Clause 15, ‘Note 2’ under Category I of API (within Amended Appendix III Table I) explains the manner and method of calculating teaching hours thus:

“For example, if a teacher has been assigned 20 hours of classroom teaching per week in an institution that teaches for 16 weeks per semester, the teacher would write 320 hours….Since this is 2 hours higher than the UGC norm, she would claim additional 2 x 16 hours in row 1A (ii).”

It appears from this portion of the UGC Regulations (Second Amendment) 2013 that “20 hours of classroom teaching per week” is deemed “2 hours higher than the UGC norm”.

When and how is it that 18 hours of classroom teaching per week became the “UGC norm”? Assuming that the teacher referred to in the extract is an Assistant Professor, the UGC norm followed across colleges/universities (since 2010, till 2013 and after) stipulated “16 hours” of classroom teaching, as per Clause 15.1 of the Principal Regulations. Is it true then that the change in direct teaching workload did not come about now, but was already referenced way back in 2013? In such a case, the only modality through which such a change might have been effected could be the First Amendment of 2011 – the Gazette Notification for which, dated April 9-15, 2011, however makes no reference to the Section on ‘Workload’. Collectively examined, the three Amendments of the UGC Regulations 2010 give out a sense of secret changes being introduced not only without an acknowledgment of the need for larger consultations, but also without due process and public notification. These constitute grave procedural lapses and (intentional) errors within the UGC’s regulatory legislations, aimed at producing confusion and stealthily affirming policy-directions in higher-education.

In fact, the most frequently encountered phrase in these documents — “UGC norm” – functions as an empty shibboleth, deliberately invoked to lend a legalistic finality to bizarre violations and internal contradictions.

  • Following protests by teachers’ associations like DUTA, FEDCUTA and AIFUCTO, the secretary of the higher education department under MHRD had reportedly observed on May 24, 2016 that the Gazette Notification is merely ‘advisory’ in intent and not binding on teachers. And, yet for as much as an ‘advice’, the ministry issued a public statement on May 26 claiming to have “reviewed the recent amendment…and [given] direction to the UGC, under Section 20(1) of the UGC Act, 1956, to undertake amendments in the Regulation”. One only has to engage with the letter and spirit of the both the ‘clarification’ and the ‘statement’ in order to understand how they actually proceed to justify the Amendment in an oblique fashion, rather than overrule it.

Nowhere within the sham of the MHRD’s statement is there a proposal to withdraw the Gazette Notification. Instead, it vindicates the latter by morally exhorting teachers to move beyond “prescribed hours…, measured either in weeks or months”, and ironically promotes a transcendental horizon of ‘teaching’ as philanthropic voluntarism exceeding the material limits of a wage-for-work economy. Where work itself becomes a means of self-denial in the cause of higher goals of ‘social service’, there can neither be a workload-calculus nor exploitations on the basis of it. As a result, the ministry goes further in re-emphasising the 40-hour working week as the prescribed “overall workload” for all teachers – which, it asserts, is not superseded “even with the amended Regulation”. This is not only tantamount to granting legitimacy to the Amendment, but also empowering the regulatory body to successively step up workload and make teachers be accountable for “not less than 40 hours a week for 180 teaching days”. There’s of course a hidden moral-spiritual clause in the profession that defies arithmetic and demands even more. The 26 May statement also does not retract the ‘top-up’ stipulation of “6 additional hours per week” by falsely and illegally equating it with the research time allowed to a teacher by Clause 15.2 of the Principal Regulations.

This is in line with the immediately preceding ‘clarification’ of the higher education secretary that the erstwhile API norm mandating research activities for all college and university teachers (in Category III) has now been relaxed, giving teachers an option of either undertaking research or conducting tutorial classes. The Amendment is unequivocal, however, in not providing an option between tutorial hours and research activities – because while the former accounts for API scores in Category I, the latter is applicable only for determining scores under Category III. Contrary to such dubious ‘clarifications’ and ‘advisory’ intentions, research requirements have not been waived off for any category of teachers. The “minimum scores” required in Category III for promotion have been halved for only Stages 1 and 2 (Asst. Prof), while for Stages 3, 4 and 5 (Asst./Assoc./Prof), they have been reduced by a meagre 20 to 30 percent. Correspondingly, the individual “maximum score” attainable for almost every research activity has been slashed by 30 to 67 percent. So, for all practical purposes, one will have to show MORE ‘research output’ than earlier to reach the reduced ‘minimum scores’.

  • There’s more to the underlying intent within the “evaluation of the API system” that the Nigavekar Committee performs and edifies through the Third Amendment Notification. While on the one hand it seems to bring about an increase in teaching workload by about 50 percent (albeit through incorrect terms of reference and an ill-placed insertion countervailing the Principal Regulations!), the maximum permissible API score that one may claim for “Teaching, Learning and Evaluation Related Activities” under Category I has been visibly reduced from 180 points in the Second Amendment to 100 points in the Third. While the original Regulations of 2010 mandated a maximum score of 125 points in Category I, it was subsequently amended as 180 in 2013 and has now been slashed by nearly 50 percent to a meagre 100 points.

Isn’t it a remarkable irony that the same document which hikes teaching hours by 50 percent slashes its weightage for promotions by 50 percent as well? The real intention of the Nigavekar Committee is clear: far from bolstering teaching-learning activities through an apparent increase in teaching hours, it merely sought to cut down teaching jobs while at the same time delegitimizing the ‘value’ of teaching within the API-based PBAS scheme for promotions.

  • The devaluation of teaching-learning processes continues well into the number-games structurally incorporated by the Third Amendment within Categories II and III for API quantification. In Category II[a] (described as “Student related co-curricular, extension and field based activities”) – which includes “study visit, student seminar and other events” or “public/popular lectures/talks/seminars etc.” – the maximum annual score obtainable for promotion was originally fixed at 20 points in the 2010 Regulations. It was subsequently made 30 points in 2013, while the current Notification exactly halves it to 15. Institutionally speaking, this would inevitably translate into a lack of administrative will in terms of promoting exchange-platforms between students, while also discouraging teachers from mobilising intellectual spaces/resources for such student-activities.

Interestingly enough, the maximum allocations for the other two bureaucratic sub-heads within Category II (namely, “contribution to corporate life and management” and “professional development”) have been kept the same as originally stipulated in 2010, while it is only student-related activities which have been de-incentivised.

  • Category III of the API Scheme – entitled “Research and Academic Contributions” – has been integrally overhauled with the corresponding point-weightages for all kinds of publications/projects/conference papers being reduced by as much as 20 points. Not only does this downgrade academic research as of lower relative ‘worth’, but it will also aggravate apparent concerns of ‘quality’ in terms of research output — by forcing teachers to look for more such opportunities to make up for the lower weightage of each. While a singularly authored “text/reference book by [an] international publisher” carried 50 points as per 2010 Regulations and all subsequent amendments, the recent notification brings it down to 30 points. In deliberately diminishing the rigour of thought and labour that goes into authoring a book and pitching it in a publishing-market of speculative investments, this move deems the time taken for serious academic research as rather being inimical to ‘career advancement’.

Insofar as publications are now expected to pass the UGC test of being brokered by ‘commissioned’ publishers (that is, those “notified” or “identified” by the regulatory body), the Amendment conjures and abets the spectre of the mainstream while relegating alternative forms/spaces of work as irrelevant. The UGC’s enlisting of publishers as potential avenues for ‘good’/‘useful’ work will also naturally reinstate networks of monopoly capital within the publishing-market.

  • The recent Amendment goes as far as discouraging academic or intellectual collaboration between teachers of different universities/spaces by substituting the 60:40 ratio of point-distribution for jointly-authored publications with a 70:30 scale. An asterisked note to Category III maintains that the “API for joint publications” shall be calculated through an apportioning of 70% of the total points to the First Author, while “the remaining 30% would be shared equally by all other authors”.

Collaborative work helps us teachers in testing the force of our convictions with others in the field, as much as they serve to form intellectual-political solidarities often outside of one’s own institution or discipline. The May 2016 Gazette Notification seeks to de-recognise the potential for inter-subjective alliances within communities of scholarship, as well as the very traffic of ideas so crucial to processes of intellectual production. Cultures of exchange and collective practices of work are argued to be less ‘valuable’ on the scale of point-tags, than the solipsistic egoism of ‘authorly’ teachers. By institutionalising a brand of possessive individualism premised on unequal claims of proprietorship, collegiality and its potential for meaningful dialogue are proven as detrimental to API measures of ‘advancement’.

  • Appendix III Table II (A) of the current Gazette Notification significantly does away with the differential API requirements for college and university teachers, by proposing a single standard of ‘minimum qualifications’ for the promotion of either. While the original UGC Regulations 2010 mandated two different tables for assessment scales of college and university teachers seeking promotion under CAS, the 2016 Amendment fuses them. This is a draconian step, threatening to take away focus from the methodological rigour of teaching demanded by UG colleges – which are traditionally expected to place more emphasis on classroom-learning than research activities. Urging a blanket homogenization of different levels of teaching and their divergent material priorities, the Nigavekar Committee – in the guise of the Third Amendment – ignores the distinct pedagogical requirements of UG teaching as opposed to PG/Ph.D supervision, and will only culminate in a climate of competitive self-aggrandisement at the cost of structural necessities and student needs.
  • Even as the UGC institutionalises an enumerative, quantifiable teaching-learning model through the API, its 2016 Amendment further egregiously hands out scorecards to students to rate teachers and determine their eligibility for promotion. The 2010 Regulations, Clause 6.0.11 had only offered by way of suggestion a student feedback medium — “The IQAC may also introduce, wherever feasible, the student feedback system as per the NAAC guidelines” – one that would allow students to respond to the larger institutional, infrastructural opportunities that were being made available to them, “without incorporating the component of students’ assessment of individual teachers”. The next Amendment of 2013 brings in the format of the anonymous questionnaire, even as it maintains its earlier caveat that prevents it from being used against the teacher at the time of hiring and promotion. But now the latest Amendment directly liases student feedback with an API scoring to determine promotions. An absurd score chart is given for assigning points/marks to teachers by students, which will then predicate promotions. This feedback mechanism, in all its offensiveness, can also insidiously warp the existing dynamic of mentoring, so valued by both the teacher and the student. With promotions resting crucially on feedback, the dangerous possibility of a nefarious alliance between marks and points proliferating through coteries remains high. Further, this would also create an unhealthy competitive bidding for promotions between teachers.

Within the UGC’s regulations, renewed and amended, its signing off line remains – ‘with immediate effect’, a dangling fait accompli that holds institutional funding in remand against any kind of defiance or deferral. And yet interestingly, colleges quick in implementing UGC’s farmans and diktats conveniently continue to sidestep the very important clause authorising the promotion to ‘Professorship’ for teachers in UG colleges. In 2010, Clause 6.5.1 of the Regulation read, “Ten percent of the number of sanctioned posts of Associate Professor in an Under Graduate College shall be that of Professors and shall be subject to the same criterion for selection/appointment as that of Professors in Universities”. How is it that non compliance in this case, has escaped the attention of the UGC?

What is obvious with the 2016 Amendment is how the UGC’s bureaucratised understanding rationalises intellectual labour in its deseguing of teaching, both from research as well as from the smaller group mentoring that Tutorials/Practicals make space for. Ill-conceived ‘reforms’ like the Semesterized model, the erstwhile FYUP and now the CBCS, have gone a long way in cementing both the idea and approach towards teaching that sees it as only nebulously and marginally productive in the creation of skilled, vocationalized labour. Within this is cleverly apportioned the larger goal of downsizing, double backing as it does on existing vacancies. An entire workforce of beleaguered contractual teachers, numbering more than 4,000 in Delhi University alone, will be dismissively (un)accounted as collateral. And thus, in times that claim better days, and a ‘Make in India’ rhetoric which vocabularizes the need for supporting industry while resting on the backs of invisibilised labour, the teacher-worker will always remain beyond the pale of the state’s support and pride.

Rina Ramdev and Debaditya Bhattacharya teach literature to undergraduate students at Delhi University and the University of Calcutta, respectively. They have both done their Ph.D from Centre for English Studies, JNU. They are co-editors of Sentiment, Politics, Censorship: The State of Hurt (Sage, New Delhi, 2016).

10 thoughts on “What the UGC Gazette Notification 2016 Portends for the State of Higher Education in India: Rina Ramdev and Debaditya Bhattacharya

    1. Debaditya

      Jomo, the Notification has not been rolled back. The MHRD’s statement that you refer to is an absolutely ambiguous vindication of the Notification instead. The statement illegally conflates the extra-6-hour-bracket of “direct teaching” with the UGC’s 2010 stipulation of “6 hours of research activities” (Clause 15.2). A close reading of MHRD’s statement proves that it only goes on to justify the Amendment, rather than retract it. We have talked about this in our piece as well.

  1. K SHESYU BABU

    Good critique explaining the lopsided ‘ promotion’s policy. The government has instituted a committee which has no concrete ideas on the procedure of promotions except ‘ promoting’ itself as a stooge of rulers.

  2. Vik

    Another example of the romanticized notion of Teacher-Student relationship and Research that goes on in the Universities. The writers have evoked the teacher-worker complex which is laughable when mentioned by anybody drawing salaries equivalent to CLass-A Gazzetted officers. The state of contractual teachers is worse but only in comparison to the permanent faculty. If you look at other spheres of professions, it will be eye opening that how much hours in a week similar level professionals have to work for.

    The rhetoric of World Bank and cutting the number of jobs has been beaten to death by scholars in various avenues of thinking. There are far many and more effective ways available in the economy to do that. It is unfortunate that teachers are hiding behind the historical brahmanic notion of the instructor as the supreme ‘not to be questioned being’ being while on the ground all they have to practice is meritocracy and ease of service. The age of teacher interacting beyond the classroom has long passed with rise in number of students, the interactions if happening are usually with ‘meritorious’ and ‘sincere’ students only which anyways do not need much of their direction but are actually student attempts in creating a ‘repo’ with the faculty for further gains/ recommendations. Such interactions are also often with students who belong to the same class; often socially upper middle class which most of the faculty whether contractual or permanent come from. It will be better if teachers especially in the University and Colleges of Delhi have a reality check themselves and come to terms with the fact that the Gurukul System under the patronage of the King(State) is over. Also, when accountability is being fixed for every other profession existing in India it seems painful to the elite that they are being questioned for the level of education they claim to provide.

    There are philosophical critiques of the concept of a ‘çareer’ but the truth is that education is linked in Toto to a career. Given that money is being spent by people on their education which is closely aligned to the rubric of modern careers, how does student feedback becomes unfair? It is also a fact that feedback could be used by students in a wrong way but that doesn’t mean that the whole notion is faulty. Most of the students who studied in foreign universities and have become faculty (due to political reasons) in Indian universities take pride and claim superiority because of the academic rigor and depth they got exposed to there. Aren’t they ignoring the fact that their foreign professors were acting under the similar norms which are proposed today in India? However, when it comes to installing a similar system in India, they join heads to oppose it. This same category of people works overnight (often at the cost of attention to students) to take part in international conferences but will say call a conference in Lucknow as useless.

    Increasingly students are shifting to technical professional courses which are not governed by UGC rules, explained by the rise of Engineering and Medical college attendees. Often these students come from equally disadvantaged backgrounds which students of DU come from. The responsibility of universities like DU become huge towards such students in this scenario.

    I believe the time has come for our education system to reform and the teachers have a large role to play if they are ready to come down from their perches of privilege and collective academic hyperbole against attempts to install some accountability in the system.

    1. Debaditya

      Vik, thanks for your critique. We’re not invoking “the romanticized notion of Teacher-Student relationship” by being critical of what you think are UGC’s “attempts to install some accountability in the system”. Accountability cannot be ‘installed’ through 40-hour-attendance records in an institutional space – especially if you think that the onus of accountability does not lie with governments systematically curtailing access to even basic infrastructural amenities within these institutional spaces. The majority of state-run (and even centrally-funded) colleges in India are in a state of absolute infrastructural paralysis – which not only means lack of dedicated workspace or computers or technological support, but also facilities as basic as lights and fans, power back-up, classroom furniture, staffroom seating, library resources, laboratory space and equipment as well as stationery material. There are departments which run with a single permanent teacher for decades, as there are hundreds of colleges working without full-time principals or office staff. Evidently, you haven’t walked into any such space with your experience of “other spheres of professions” and your understanding of teachers as natally tied to the “upper middle class” (cleaned as it were of the possibility of teachers coming from Dalit/tribal or other socially deprived caste-backgrounds and the absolutely necessary historical corrective of reservations!).

      Are you sure the “Class A Gazetted officers”, that you were trying to establish parity with, work under similar conditions of infrastructural collapse? If they don’t, the problem surely doesn’t lie with the government’s finances, but its policy-priorities of where to spend them and which to starve. Accountability hence cannot be an imposition – it has to come through an act of political-economic will and by addressing structures of work altogether. Have you heard of permanent teachers not getting their salaries for 9 months, of service-confirmations for permanent faculty not being processed after 3 years of appointment, of promotions of teachers pending for 10 years, of contractual teachers forced to move from one college to another in the cause of variations in workload between 2 consecutive semesters, of ad hoc service contracts liable to be terminated on one day’s notice, of such teachers being denied maternity leave or any kind of increment, of there being no concept of a medical leave for an ad hoc teacher and of young early-career entrants into teaching being made to do evaluation/admission work with no guarantee of pay? You would not have. Because, if you did, you wouldn’t have been able to smugly say that the “teacher-worker complex” is “laughable” or that the “state of contractual teachers is worse but only in comparison to the permanent faculty”. Clearly, you have very little idea of what ‘teaching work’ means in this country today beyond what you imagine as “meritocracy and ease of service”, on the basis of your all-too-predictable experience with elite institutions and “technical-professional” spaces.

      One response that we get ad nauseam to any account of the material conditions of public institutions is that one should therefore advocate privatisation of the education sector. That’s exactly what the government wants, by bringing in reforms of the kind of the recent UGC Amendment – and by thus forcing people to stay away from ‘oh-those-inefficient’ public institutions through job-cuts and stalled promotions. Would a private college, relieved of compliance with most of these UGC norms as well as reservation-policies mandated by the government — enable ease of access to a teacher not from the “upper middle class” or a student from “equally disadvantaged backgrounds that students of DU come from”? It won’t, and which is exactly why we “join heads together” to keep these spaces alive and open. So, it is not us who are romanticizing the teacher, but it is the government which uses that popular romanticism of ‘teaching’ to justify violations of basic worker-rights and it would be readers like you who mobilize a commonsense-category of the ‘lazy’ status-quoist teacher to look past the ground violations. For “our education system to reform”, one could begin by looking beyond prejudice and addressing the material rights and conditions of ‘teaching work’, before expecting the teachers to selflessly start playing a “large role”.

      About the efficacy of the feedback mechanism, yes – we do recognise that the notion is not “faulty” in itself. But to link student feedback with promotions will automatically increase its potential for misuse – whereby, class/caste/religious/gender differences between teachers and students will begin to influence rating and similar “repo”-enhancing exercises (as you mention) will be given further institutional validity through unabashed forms of favouritism or threats of victimization. Finally, when student-feedback is made part of bureaucratic processes, the former becomes only a tool for university/college administrations to selectively use against individual teachers who dare to speak truth to power.

      Nobody is arguing for the “historical brahmanic notion of the instructor as the supreme ‘not to be questioned being’”, and indeed tutorials are exactly the spaces meant for such questioning and feedback. You’re wrong to assume that tutorial spaces are mostly exploited by upper-middle-class alliances between brahminical teachers and ‘sincere’ or ‘meritorious’ students — because they in fact help breaking away the classroom flamboyance/dominance of the privileged/proficient few. What the current Amendment does is precisely to do away with this alternative space of interactions, beyond visible-vocal identifiers of the ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ within classroom spaces. These are feedback spaces, contributing as much to the teacher’s own self-awareness as of the student’s. We would not go on to say that the ‘gurukul’ brand of coteries of patronage do not exist at all – but to institutionalise the student-feedback mechanism as part of promotion-logic will only bolster such practices of alliance-formation rather than curb them.

      Since you refer to “foreign universities” and the need for implementing similar performance parameters here, would you also then factor in workload and infrastructural comparisons? Just by way of an example, most colleges and universities in the US mandate 9 to 12 hours of classroom teaching per week for its Assistant Professors, while in the UK it’s around 8 to 10 hours per week. Let’s just skip the rest.

  3. Ludicrous! But, this is not new to the teachers of Karnataka. This has been in the works here for a very long time. The problem is that most of the Education policies are decided by petty bureaucrats who resent being placed ostensibly on par with the teachers. Therefore, the oft-heard complaint about “how little work they do” or the bitter crib that “they have too many holidays in a calendar year” or “why are they paid so much for so little?” etc. Therefore, this insistence on making schools and colleges work like factories or like corporate entities. ‘How many hours did you put in this week? How many times did you interact with the student apart from your class hours?’ – well, frankly, if you are a good teacher, the students interact with you all the while. There are no specified hours to do so or a quota per week.

    In the 80s, a smart scoundrel here got the whiff of the changes that would come and set up a private venture, even as he drew a salary as a lecturer, to “TRAIN” people to improve their “teaching efficiency” and their “personality”. It was with chagrin that we saw the rise of that charlatan as he roped in more and more gullible lecturers in his training classes until he managed to catch the eye of the administrators, who then made it a public-private enterprise of a kind. So we shall train teachers now to become hep and modern??? To become more ‘corporate’ in their style of functioning???

    It is sad, but also something that was inevitable when teaching became a job rather than a calling. I can only express my contempt at the other teachers who nod their head that such “discipline” and rigid regimes are needed to make education more “streamlined”. It is disgusting to see the yuppies in this profession call out older lecturers and professors telling them that they are “old fashioned dinosaurs” and that they have innovative methods (gimmicks) make education more pleasurable and wholesome. A rather crude cousin of mine has a sort of appropriate rejoinder (in other circumstances) to this state of affairs – “Don’t teach your father how to *******!!! “.

    I pity this nation which does not do justice nor does honour to its teachers. Woe is you, India.

  4. R K Mishra

    why so frequent changes in service conditions of university teachers only.There is virtually no change in the service conditions of IAS,IPS,Doctors,Military Personnel,Railway employees etc for last many decades.How can the scholars be attracted towards teaching when every day they read in news that teachers are begging on the roads in the guise of protests for maintaining what they already had in the name of teaching environment.Nobody cares to notice we are not demanding anything better because the governments and their advisers are out to destroy whatever remains in the name of RESPECT of teachers in the mind of students,their parents and the public at large.And if that happens then it is not like the new car of a minister which can be retrieved quickly from a showroom.Once teaching is destroyed everything will collapse in our society.Hence teachers across the country,who not only teach but also control youth in their most volatile and aggressive age without a stick,should be given the maximum perks.Once employed,the teachers should be given time bound promotions not only for monetary benefit but more importantly for their self esteem and social standing,without ANY conditions.For those teachers who publish or research there should be the best additional incentives subject to any stringent conditions prescribed by the UGC/MHRD though this should also be with the help of major teacher organisations/unions.I dont know how scoring points by a serving teacher would enhance her teaching ability.

  5. C.R.Ravi

    WRITE UP ON RECENT AMENDMENT TO UGC REGULATIONS 2010 BY
    AMENDED REGULATIONS 2016 GAZETTED ON 4.5.2016.
    1. As per the 2nd amendment to UGC Regulations 2000, dated 14.06.2006, holders of Ph.D., were exempted from clearing NET and eligible to teach UG and PG classes, while those holding M.Phil., Degree were also exempted from NET but eligible to teach only UG classes.
    2. Suddenly came the 3rd amendment to UGC Regulations 2000 dated 11.7.2009, to the effect that only Ph.D holders were entitled for exemption from clearing NET. An important rider was included in the said Regulations. It was that only those Ph.D., degrees obtained in accordance with “UGC Regulations 2009 for the award of Ph.D” alone shall be exempt from NET. The said amendment brought out conditions in terms of conduct of entrance test, course work and prescribed certain conditions for the evaluation of Ph.D., thesis.(pl see attachment 1)
    3. The amended Ph.D., Regulations 2009 was applicable prospectively to all those who registered Ph.D., on or after 11.07.2009.
    4. But this left much hue and cry in that all those who had completed Ph.D prior to 11.7.2009 or those who were in the process of completion on 11.07.2009 would not be eligible for the exemption, as the regulations governing their Ph.D would not fit into the new Ph.D regulations of 11.7.2009.
    5. The UGC’s Anamoly Committees headed by Dr.S.P.Thyagarajan suggested 6 out of 11 criteria to be fulfilled by the erstwhile Ph.D.s to enable them tobe eligible for exemption from NET.
    6. Though the same was placed before the 479th meeting of the UGC held on 8.7.2011, the same was not issued as Regulations.(available in UGC website)
    7. Several legal battles were fought by individual teacher aspirants in High Courts and the Courts came to the rescue of such.(pl find attachment 2)
    8. Thus the question of exempting pre 2009 Ph.D holders from NET remained a mystery and the democle’s sword was ever hanging in balance over their head.
    9. The UGC has now brought about an amendment to UGC Regulations 2010 by a Gazette Notification on 4.05.2016 revisiting qualification norms for the post of Asst Professor/Associate professor/Principals etc.,
    10. When all in the academia expected the UGC and MHRD to come out with the much needed relief for pre 2009 Ph.D holders, the latest amendment gazetted on 04th may 2016 has laid the last nail in the coffin in terms of the qualification for pre july 2009 Ph.D., holders, in that 5 conditions have been prescribed to be fulfilled by pre 2009 Ph.D holders.( pl find attachment 3)
    11. Among the 5 clauses(pl refer to the attachment) cluase (c ) and (d) by no stretch of imagination can be fulfilled by them. That is to say, when the Regulations governing Ph.D at the time of their pursuit did not have said two clauses,viz., two research papers to have been published of which one should be in a referreed journal and two papers to have been presented at seminars/conferences.
    12. To insist on such candidates to fulfill the same retrospectively would amount to requiring such Ph.D holders to put the clock back which is well nigh an impossibility.
    13. It is relevant that during the interregnum few State Governments like Kerala have issued orders exempting pre 2009 Ph.D holders from NET, thus treating them on par with post 2009 Ph.D holders.( pl find attachments 4 and 5).
    14. The issues arising out of the amendment dated 4.5.2016 and confronting teaching community and those aspiring teaching profession are as follows:
    a. Teacher aspirants working in the self-financing stream and those without such jobs even but holding Ph.D., degrees obtained prior to July 2009 are the worst hit in that their hopes of moving into Government or Aided college jobs stands annihilated.
    b. Even teacher working in Government/aided colleges who vie for promotional posts like Principals would face an uphill task as their earlier qualification of Ph.D., (all of them would have got degrees in 1980s or 1990s in the first decade of the 21st century) would not be eligible, as not conforming to Ph.D., regulations of 2009 or the 5 condition formula now contemplated.
    15. The need of the hour is for the UGC to arrest this dangerous trend by withdrawing the draconian regulations and provide a blanket exemption for all ph.D holders, be it pre 2009 or post 2009.
    16. Further, the State Government of T.N. can issue orders as in the case of Kerala or Assam in so far as the fact is that it is yet to adopt the very UGC Regulations 2010 itself and to adhere to such an weird amendment will be against public interest.
    17. Only such a decision would be sane to protect the academic interest of all concerned.
    By Dr.C.R.RAVI,
    Former Principal, A.M.Jain College,
    Chennai 500017

  6. i feel very sad to see the pain teachers and professors would suffer with these notifications. I really want that you all put up a strong very strong fight with the government all over India. Education is beyond yoga or swatch bharat.

  7. C.R.Ravi

    This is C.R.Ravi whose comments are found above…in that my pin code is wrongly typed…it is 600017 and 500017..
    Further i like Anirudh Agarwalz comment that education is beyond yoga or swatch bharat….it is a pity that UGC which is an autonomous body as per the UGC Act is made the subservient to MHRD, even when it comes to powers of UGC under section 26 of the Act to make regulations…Even in this arena, MHRD trammels upon citing its powers under Section 20. It is to be understood that Section 20 deals with General powers of the Union, while under Section 26 of the Act, UGC has Special Powers….Even Courts have not come to the rescue of the UGC. In connection with the qualification part upon which i wrote my comments, two State Governments, namely kerala and Assam are to be appreciated, in that, they have passed orders to the effect that pre 2009 Ph.Dz are to be treated on a par with post 2009 ph.dz and granted exemption from NET…The battle seems to be never ending….Anyway lets all keep our fingers crossed while hoping for the best…
    C.R.Ravi
    Former princiipal,
    A.M.Jain College, Chennai.

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