By: Neha Mustafi
For most of the Delhi University (DU) students the word “strike” is often synonymous with cancelled classes aka a holiday, but while we rejoice at the prospect of sleeping in and not having to go to college, our professors struggle for the sake of not just themselves but the students as well.
It’s been more than a year since DUTA first began the protests against the 30%- 70% funding formula, grants for infrastructural needs being replaced by loans through HEFA (Higher Education Financing Agency), the tripartite MoU requiring steady increase in students’ fees, CCS- ESMA, Graded Autonomy and the scheme of autonomous colleges.
The policies mentioned may appear to be a little overwhelming at first, but they simply are an attempt by the center to dismantle the existing education system by privatizing and denying the teachers essential rights such as permanent positions. The following is an attempt to break these policies down:
What is HEFA?
According to the central government, the creation of HEFA will enable major investments for the creation of high-quality infrastructure in premier educational institutions.
The HEFA would finance the academic and research infrastructure projects through a 10-year loan. The principal portion of the loan will be repaid through the internal- accruals’ of the institution.
What is the Tripartite MoU and why is DUTA against it?
According to the UGC, the proposed Tripartite MoU, which has to be signed between every central university, the MHRD, and the UGC is aimed at providing enhanced autonomy and financial powers to the institutions.
The Tripartite MoU is part of the policy onslaught aimed at restructuring universities as they exist and to shift the burden of maintaining and expansion of publicly funded universities on students.
Reduced government funding is bound to adversely impact recruitment, promotions, and research.
The MoU allows the Government to bypass the University Grants College (UGC) and take arbitrary funding decisions.
Under the MoU, universities would commit to incremental hikes in student-fees (“user charges”) and to raise extra-mural funds for research from corporate sources in the private sector.
Institutions are required to commit to steadily increase student intake without any promise of grants needed for commensurate expansion of infrastructure and teaching and non-teaching staff, a requisite to maintain quality.
Universities like DU would be forced to take infrastructural loans through the HEFA, a corporate body that raises money for loans from capital markets and private investment.
These loans can only be secured by mortgaging the land and infrastructure of the university and colleges as collaterals. As a result, institutions would be forced to hike fees in order to pay back these loans.
Parameters for Equity i.e. equal opportunities for women and underprivileged, reservations for backward castes and marginalized peoples, learning and research facilities for students and teachers with special needs, hostels, housing, health facilities etc. find no mention in the Performance Evaluation Targets.
The drive to cut costs will compel universities to ignore these vital obligations, to meet the targets set by the MHRD.
Even though the protests against the 70%- 30% formula had borne fruit and the UGC was forced to clarify stating that, “for those centrally funded institutions whose salary commitments are being met by the UGC/MHRD, the increased liabilities due to revision of 7th CPC pay scales will be fully met by the Central Government”, other issues like the tripartite MoU and the absorption of ad- hoc and temporary teachers continued to drive DUTA to protest.
The strikes in the past few months have been for the restoration of the 200- point roster system (the 13-point roster system will drastically reduce the representation of the SC, ST and OBC teachers), against the hiring of contract- based lecturers who will be employed for vacancies spanning one- year.
Professors across Delhi University have been agitating against the unavailability of permanent positions, pensions and maternity leave for the ad- hoc teachers.
The center, thus, is not just privatizing the education system but depriving the teachers of their basic rights.
The DUTA has been fighting the government for a very long time for multiple issues, often to no avail. It is time now for the students to do their part and support the teachers in every possible way.
Picture Credits: Google Images
Find the blogger: @NehaMustafi
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