Published On: Wed, Aug 10th, 2011

Indian Higher Education facing 300000 faculty shortage

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Faculty Shortage

Faculty Shortage

According to a report presented to the Union government by the University Grants Commission (UGC), India currently has only half of the required strength needs about 300,000 more professors , revealing the extent of faculty crunch in India’s higher education system.

The report prepared by the UGC in collaboration  with higher education professionals including vice-chancellors, will aid the government to prepare an action plan to address the issue.

“The task force (committee) notes that more that 300,000 is the shortage of faculty in the system at present. It may be noted that the establishment of a reliable database itself is a major hurdle in addition with the issue of faculty shortage,“ the Ministry of human resource development ministry (MHRD) said in a statement.

The report also states that India requires about 100,000 more teachers per year in next 10 years for its colleges.

The committee  also noted that even establishing a reliable database on the numbers needed was a “major hurdle”.

Painting a grim picture, the task force urged the ministry to immediately order a full assessment of the academic situation in India, without which higher education policy projections for the 12th Plan (2012-17) cannot be met.

The elite Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) face a faculty shortage of 30-35% with the 15 IITs needing 1,693 more teachers immediately and the 20 NITs, 1,522 more. The central universities face at least a 30% shortage .

The govt. recently allowed institutes to hire expatriate Indians to make up for any shortage in faculty.

“To tide over the faculty shortage, the IITs can appoint NRIs (non-resident Indians) and PIOs (persons of Indian origin) to permanent faculty position. However, foreign nationals (can be) appointed on contract basis for a fixed tenure of not exceeding five years,“ the MHRD informed the parliament.

With the government plans to admit more students in higher education and encourage private participation, the student-teacher gap will only grow if it’s not addressed soon. The Centre has said it wants to add 25 million students to the current 15 million in higher education as India’s economy grows. The aim is to raise India’s gross enrollment ratio in the 18 to 25 year age group from the current 12.4% to 30% by 2030. The lecturer-to-student ratio in the country is 1:20.9 against 1:13.5 recommended by the University Grants Commission (1:12 for postgraduate students and 1:15 for undergraduates).

The report by UGC, the country’s university education regulator, notes administrative hindrances and delays are major impediments in creating a healthy strength of faculty members. It suggests hiring visiting faculties.

The task force has proposed measures to fight the lecturer shortage including reducing bureaucratic red tape that accompanies appointments, setting up independent faculty recruitment and development cells in every higher education institution. “The task force has proposed a novel scheme of inducting young men and women in the academic profession while they are pursing their academic career,“ the ministry said.

The task force also recommended that academics involved in research be given additional financial compensation, along with recognising outstanding faculty and rewarding them.

Industry bodies such as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry are lobbying for the government to allow faculty to be recruited from industry.

While industry people may not have PhDs, they have experience in areas such as business, engineering and technology, industry groups argue. This would ensure a good mix of academics and practical knowledge for students while addressing the faculty crunch.