Hyderabad: Student activists are organising a ‘Save Universities Campaign’ across 11 state universities in Telangana demanding appointment of vacant Vice Chancellors, faculties and financial assistance for students from vulnerable communities.
On Saturday, February 13, the Students Federation of India (SFI) held a protest gathering in front of the Kakatiya University in Warangal district in the state. Similar protests were held in Osmania University campus in Hyderabad on Friday and in Telangana University in Nizamabad.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) led state government has come under severe criticism for not appointing Vice Chancellors (VC) in the 11 state universities for more than 18 months now. According to students' organisations and senior professors, the state government is ‘deliberately’ delaying the appointments of VCs, who are crucial for the functioning of the public varsities.
“It is sad that the students and teachers have to protest for the appointment of VCs which evidently indicates the poor state of the varsities,” said Chukka Ramayya, former Member of Legislative Council and educationist from the state.
In July 2019, the VCs of state universities demitted from their posts which have remained vacant till now. In September that year, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao constituted a Search Committee for the selection of VCs and appointed senior bureaucrats as in-charge VCs. Recently in January, the CM issued orders appointing B Neeraja Prabhakar as VC of Konda Laxman Bapuji Horticulture University and Vangur Ravinder Reddy as VC of P V Narasimha Rao Veterinary Science University.
“The state universities are reeling under numerous problems such as non-appointment of faculty members, non-availability of proper infrastructure and labs among others,” said R L Murthy, SFI state president who is pursuing PhD in Sociology from Osmania University. He added that the TRS government is deliberately weakening the public educational institutions by not allocating sufficient funds for them.
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“While all the state universities require an estimated Rs 1,600 crore per annum, the state has been giving a mere Rs 600 crore. After coming into power in 2014, the state government did not appoint VCs till 2016. The case has been similar since mid-2019. Without the VCs, the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching posts into the universities is getting delayed,” said Murthy.
Reportedly, there are 2,000 vacant teaching posts in 11 universities in the state. The last recruitment of faculties was held in 2012 in the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh.
For the last few months, students organisations have held numerous protests across the state against the new educational policy while also demanding free mess charges and fellowships for students.
“About 90% students in the state universities come from poorer sections. The state government needs to waive the mess charges and give fellowships to research scholars,” demanded Murthy.
He said that the research scholars are most affected due to the non-availability of professors, adding, “In Osmania University, there is only one professor each in the departments of Archaeology, Kannada and Marathi and numerous other departments. Similar is the situation across universities.”
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