The education market may be booming, but permanent jobs are at a premium, faculty members are still undergoing training to develop adequate skill-sets—and India might face an annual shortage of 1,00,000 professors in coming years
The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has said that there is a shortage of 3,00,000 professors in India. But given the booming education market and the mushrooming of a number of academic institutes offering various courses, why is there such a huge dearth of teaching talent?
Professors at leading institutes told Moneylife that despite vacancies, poor recruitment policies and insufficient salaries in government-owned institutes and the shoddy implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations are key reasons for this shortfall.
Ramesh Arunachalam, (who has worked extensively in Asia, Africa, North America and Europe with a wide range of stakeholders from the private sector and academia to governments), told Moneylife, "Look at the number of vacant seats in many engineering colleges across the country. It's no use saying we need 3,00,000 professors when many of the colleges run at much less than 100% capacity."
PG Jogdand, dean of the Arts faculty, University of Mumbai, agrees that no recruitment is taking place. He said, "There are no recruitments despite vacancies since a couple of years. How do we teach when there is a shortage of teachers itself?"
The data released by the Central government was collated by the Task Force on Faculty Shortage and Design of Performance and Appraisal System, which was set up by the HRD ministry in coordination with the University Grants Commission. The Task Force also estimated that during the coming decade, the shortage is going to increase at the rate of 1,00,000 faculty members a year.
Padma Sarangapani, professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai told Moneylife, "Until now, the higher education system was not attractive. Poor salary and no provision for permanent positions are the main reasons (for staff shortage). It is since the past five years that the higher education sector has been booming."
She added, "People who want to come into the profession of teaching are currently undergoing the required formal education. So there is capacity building, which takes time. A lot of investment—like scholarships and funds for helping students to complete their PhDs—is required, since they would be the ones interested in taking up teaching as a profession."
Earlier, there have been media reports of teachers not being paid according to the Sixth Pay Commission. "(The) Sixth Pay Commission did improve the salary structure, but has not been implemented in many of the colleges/universities across India," says Mr Jogdand.
Prof Sarangapani agreed, "The situation at state government institutions is a matter of serious concern. They are offering salaries far lower than the Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations which are applicable to Central government institutions. The situation of employment conditions in the private sector is worse. Unless the terms of employment improve, people will not come into this profession."
The Task Force has proposed that every academic institute should have an independent faculty recruitment & development cell, which will be headed by a senior member and will report to the head of the institution. It also suggested removing administrative hurdles to ensure smooth process of induction and promotion of faculty members.
Mr Arunachalam said that emphasis should be given on building quality human resources. "While giving clearances for establishment of educational institutions, the government must accord higher weightage to the presence of good faculty rather than buildings and resources."
Professor Sarangapani added that more awareness on the recruitment process is needed. "There are no timely recruitments in government-owned institutions. Even when recruitments actually take place, there are no adequate advertisements to back them up."
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