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Monday, September 15, 2008

Big raise on cards for university teachers

A University Grants Commission pay panel has promised that the average raise for university teachers will be higher than what corresponding government officials are to receive under the Sixth Pay Commission.

The committee, headed by former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) vice-chancellor G.K. Chadha, is also set to recommend a uniform retirement age. The age is 65 in central universities but, as Chadha pointed out, it varies from 55 to 70 in educational institutions under states.

“We will ask all states to invoke a uniform policy on the age of retirement and re-employment of teachers. The uniformity is essential to rid India’s higher education sector of inter-regional disparities,” Chadha said today.

The committee has been criticised by teachers’ bodies for failing to submit its report by the September 6 deadline.

The panel was set up along with the Sixth Pay Commission and both reports were to be implemented together. The Centre finalised the findings of the pay commission and notified the recommendations last month. Government staff were granted hikes ranging from 12 to 21 per cent a year.

The Chadha panel asked for more time and was granted a month’s extension. The committee, Chadha said, had arrived at a consensus on “most issues” and would start writing the report next week.

If the government accepts the hike suggested by the UGC committee, it will be effective from January 1, 2006, the date from which the central officials’ pay has been revised.

Chadha said the committee had outlined several proposals to help retain top-quality teachers in academics. “We will focus at the entry level, on those just completing their academics and contemplating a life of teaching. We want to lure them into the profession.”

“We cannot offer the red-carpet treatment that the corporate sector can, but we plan to offer them better research facilities to keep them (faculty) in our universities.”

The Chadha committee also suggested an annual appraisal of teachers and more flexible growth opportunities.

Higher education faces a massive teacher crunch, with dozens of vacancies to be filled, many of them at premier institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

The UGC panel is also set to recommend a “carrot-and-stick” policy for states. The Centre contributes 80 per cent of the money for paying university teachers and its share is independent of the extent to which states have implemented the recommendations of the previous pay panel.

“The central assistance should continue, but only for those states willing to adopt all recommendations accepted by the Centre,” Chadha said.