The Jawaharlal Nehru University on Tuesday approved the creation of Alumni Endowment Fund to mobilise funds worth Rs 100 crore to achieve financial self-sufficiency. The administration expects that the amount will be likely collected by the end of the year.
In the appeal, vice chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar said, “JNU has remained one of the top universities in India. But we cannot continue to rest upon our past achievements. Higher education today is facing many challenges. We need to critically assess where we want JNU to be in the decades to come and how to get there. If we want JNU to be one among the top world universities, we need to keep abreast of technology, and build new research facilities, state-of-the-art online resources, better student accommodation and start new academic programmes. More importantly, we need to ensure that every qualified student wanting to benefit from JNU education is provided with assistance, particularly if they come from economically weaker sections. All this needs funding.”
He added, “Around the globe, higher educational institutions benefit a great deal from contributions received from their alumni. The time has come for the university to reach out to its alumni across India and around the globe to contribute to ‘JNU Alumni Endowment Fund.’ On behalf of JNU, I passionately appeal to all the JNU alumni to come forward and generously make your contributions to the JNU Alumni Endowment Fund. Let us keep a target of raising Rs100 crores by the end of this year.”
The alumni endowment funds are basically an investment fund constituted to support the institution. The use of this fund to support the institutions in the western countries, particularly Ivy League universities like Harvard, Princeton or Brown University, is quite common. Different universities and public-funded institutions have known to be crating endowment funds. Recently, IIT-Delhi formed its own endowment fund and pledged to mobilise funds worth one billion dollar in the next six years. Similarly, Delhi University, too, formed a fund to mobilise funds worth Rs 1,000 crore.
However, the proposal does not seem to impress the teachers and academicians. Avinash Kumar, former secretary of Jawaharlal Nehru University, told NewsClick that the university, for long, has witnessed financial mismanagement. He said, “We witnessed that the funds for library and research were downsized; whereas, funds for non-academic purposes have seen a continuous increase. For example, the security component itself was estimated to be around Rs 19 crore per annum. It is now well known that the administration paid much more price to the newly appointed security agency.”
An internal accounts document accessed by the NewsClick suggests that the university failed to utilise the funds allocated by the University Grants Commission (UGC). The document reveals that the university has received a sum of Rs 19 crore on January 10, 2019, but it could only spend Rs 9.88 crore till September 30, 2019 only. The university spent Rs 1.12 crore and Rs 47.43 lakh on campus development in 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively. Similarly, the university spent Rs 1.73 crore and Rs 15.61 lakh on books in 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively.
Prince Gananendra Babu, eminent educationist, told NewsClick that the creation of alumni endowment funds by different universities is rooted in the draft National Education Policy. He said, “Our Constitution under Article 41 and Directive Principles suggests that education is a fundamental right of a citizen and the state must ensure it. Now, the government is running away from its duties. If we see this with the draft national education policy, the picture becomes more clear. The policy is recommending for active market players in education and such funds are only part of it.”
JNU discontinues subscription, JNUTA terms vendetta
The Executive Council of the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Tuesday decided to discontinue the monthly deduction from the salaries of the teachers towards the maintenance of the teachers’ association office and running facilities like crèche. However, it did not approve the recommendation of withdrawing the facility of association’s office. The association members have been locking the horns with the administration over what they call is “agenda of vendetta” to silence them. Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar was vehemently criticised after the university campus was attacked by masked goons on January 5. The association had maintained that the return of normalcy in the campus was not possible with the present VC.
Commenting on the latest development, the association said in a statement, “The JNUTA condemns the JNU VC's action of using the Executive Council as an instrument of his vendetta against the JNUTA. Someone who doesn’t himself deserve to hold the office he is currently occupying has once again proved how alien his outlook is. Instead of owning up the responsibility for the horrendous violence JNU suffered under his charge, he is compounding his gross dereliction of duty by launching a low-level assault on the JNUTA and the constitutional right of teachers to form an association.
It added, “By his decision to end what was a pure administrative arrangement—the process of the voluntary subscription of JNUTA members being automatically deducted from their salaries—he has only revealed that he treats the university as his private property.”