HRD ministry rolls back extra workload on college teachers

Authorities say the HRD ministry has also decided to withdraw the contentious extra six hours of practical work as well. Photo: BloombergAuthorities say the HRD ministry has also decided to withdraw the contentious extra six hours of practical work as well. Photo: Bloomberg

New Delhi: The human resources development (HRD) ministry on Wednesday reduced the minimum working hours for university professors, following protests by the teaching community.

“The direct teaching workload has been restored to 16, 14, and 14 hours per week for assistant professors, associate professors and professors respectively,” said higher education secretary V.S. Oberoi after a meeting of the education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC).

Last month, the UGC in consultation with the ministry, had fixed the direct teaching workload of professors at 18, 16, and 16 hours per week, plus six hours of additional work related to practicals, tutorials and fieldwork.

Later in the same month, the ministry reduced it to 18, 14 and 14 hours per week following protests by the professors in several universities, including the Delhi University. But the six hours of additional work per week was kept intact and this was a focal point of protest for the teaching community who claimed that the aim of the new rules was to reduce the number of teachers in the country.

Professors were of the view that the additional six hours beyond the teaching hours were “excess and may hamper their quality of work”.

On Wednesday, authorities said the HRD ministry agreed to withdraw the six hours of additional work as well. But the higher education secretary said that it will take a few days for the department to notify the changes.

Addressing the fears of teachers, Oberoi said that there will be “no retrenchment on account of workload…”

UGC chairman Ved Prakash said that ad hoc teachers will not be sacked as their jobs are not in excess of the sanctioned teaching posts in universities.

HRD ministry officials said they have now given more flexibility to professors in terms of research and publication.

The secretary said that writing policy documents for central, state or local bodies will help in the performance appraisal of the professors. “Books, book chapters and journals are fine. We should also expand the horizon so that governments and community can benefit from their expertise,” Oberoi said.

The ministry also said that it is introducing an external peer review system for college principals, and that the review report will be taken into account in case a second term was being considered or reappointment somewhere else.

The system is already in place at Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

“The aim of the fresh amendments is to improve the quality of teaching and learning in India,” Oberoi said.

Meanwhile, the NITI Aayog, the Union government’s policy thinktank, on Wednesday held a detailed interaction with principal secretaries and secretaries of school education departments from all states through video conferencing.

NITI Aayog chief executive Amitabh Kant and school education secretary S.C. Khuntia asked the states to come up with suggestions on fostering innovation in schools.