On December 5, the Ministry of Human Resource Development called for a meeting with the vice-chancellor in which it was decided to take certain measures in order to address the concerns of the teachers.
There are about 4,500 ad hoc teachers of Delhi University (comprising around 40% of the university’s teaching force), and they have been struggling since August over a circular by the Varsity which they saw as an attempt to hire them as guest teachers instead.
What provoked the unsettlement?
All this was initiated when the constituent colleges and departments of DU received a letter from the varsity on August 28, advising them to “fill up the permanent [teaching] vacancies at the earliest and till permanent appointments are made, Colleges may appoint guest faculty, if required, against new vacancies arising first time in academic session 2019-20”.
This gave birth to a confusion over what exactly these “new vacancies” were: new posts created in 2019-2020 or vacancies created with the expiry of ad hoc teachers’ 120-day contracts last month which were to be renewed by November 20. Due to this, several colleges had not extended renewal of appointment of ad hoc teachers’ or even released their salaries. Teachers view it as a move to do away with the ad hoc system and to switch towards the less stable guest teacher system.
How far the issues have been resolved?
In the meeting held on December 5 between the senior UGC and ministry officials with the vice-chancellor it was decided that the circular will be amended to “The colleges/institutes shall fill up the permanent vacancies before the start of the next academic session without fail. During the interim period, if vacancies which have to be filled for maintaining smooth academic functioning of the colleges/institutions, adhoc/temporary/contract guest faculty can be appointed.” What this effectively does is put a cap of July 2020 to fill all the permanent positions. Not just this, it also means that all the ad hoc teachers’ who had served during the current academic year can continue until then.
At the meeting, it was also decided to adjust norms for shortlisting candidates for interviews of assistant professor appointments to favor the ad hoc professors, by giving greater weightage to their work experience.
Meanwhile the teachers’ association decided to continue the strike and current boycott of duties for the end-semester.
Why are there too many ad hocs?
About a decade ago, the number of ad hoc teachers in Delhi University was estimated around 500, which has multiplied to the current 4,500 taking over about 40% of the varsity’s strength. There are several factors that led to this. According to Rudrashish Chakraborty, teacher at Kirori Mal College and the former Academic Council member one reason behind this was that during 2008 and 2013 about 1500 teachers retired, creating vacancies. Even in the year 2006, central universities were given additional teaching posts to adjust for the larger student intake with reference to the OBC reservations. DU was given around 2,600 posts out of which 1,300 were released in 2007. While the number of vacancies ballooned, the recruitment process for the permanent teachers stalled and departments and colleges began to resort to ad hocs. Many teachers have been working as ad hocs for years, some have worked for over eight years.
Why was the recruitment of permanent teachers stalled?
DU’s recruitment system has faced many twists and turns which has led to agitation, litigation and court stays. Which first happened in 2010 against the introduction of the Academic performance indicator score system to screen candidates before interviews, even in 2013 against the introduction of a 200-point roster. Even when posts have been advertised, interviews have not been conducted. This has been due to a centralised, elaborated process which often hampered because the university did not send panels of experts to various colleges to interview the shortlisted candidates and go ahead with the recruitment process.
How are ad hocs hired?
According to the Delhi University’s guidelines, an ad hoc appointment may be made “In case there is a sudden, unexpected and short vacancy, arising out of sudden sickness or death, on medical grounds (including maternity leave), abrupt leave or any other situation that may disrupt the normal process of teaching learning…”
Every year in the month of June and November, the University of Delhi draws up an ad hoc panel of applications to be forwarded to colleges looking to recruit. The interview in these colleges are conducted by a selection committee. All ad hoc teachers are paid on the same levels as a starting-level permanent teachers, coming to around Rs. 80,000 per month. But unfortunately this amount is not subject to annual increment. Those working for many years in an ad hoc capacity have only got dearness allowances hikes as they are appointed for a period of 120 days at a time, with various terms and conditions specified for leaves, placement and promotion.
How is it different for the guest teachers?
The qualifications demanded for the post of guest teacher are the same just like the ad hoc. The only difference between the two profiles is that the ad hoc teachers are appointed for 120-day period and paid a monthly salary on the same scale as an entry-level professor, but the guest teachers are hired and paid per lecture. According to the guidelines of UGC, guest teachers should be paid Rs. 1,500 per lecture. In addition to that, the teaching in the University is only active for eight months out of the twelve and so the guest teachers were an easy resort that can only be employed and paid for those months. They are not entitled to leave and vacation with salary. The guidelines also mention that guest faculty will not be treated like regular teachers for the purpose of voting rights for becoming the members of various statutory bodies of the university.