University of Hyderabad in the throes of crisis

What’s ailing the University of Hyderabad ( UoH ), the biggest central university in the state which has about 500 teaching staff and 5,000 students?

It seems nothing is going right for the university – one of its academic partners fails to honour a financial agreement, recruitments are stalled, student fellowships and courses get scrapped and seats lie vacant. A clear picture of the varsity’s problems emerged at the academic council meeting held last week.

In the meet which lasted for about two hours, vice-chancellor Ramakrishna Ramaswamy was asked to explain the status of a deal struck with Dr Reddy’s lab in 2004 concerning the Institute of Life Sciences, which has come up on the university land as part of a public-private partnership program.

The institute has not paid the dues to the tune of Rs 3 crore to the varsity so far, it was alleged. The meeting concluded with the VC agreeing to move court against ILS for allegedly stalling the payment, sources present in the meeting said.

The recruitment process undertaken by the varsity was earlier challenged in the AP High Court because of alleged failure of the administration in following the reservation policy and, adding insult to injury, students went on strike, alleging that around 495 of OBC, SC and ST seats were vacant.

Besides, the student community is embittered by a sudden rollback of a scholarship program under which post graduate students were promised a monthly scholarship of Rs 1,000 each. The fellowship program is currently limited to only a handful of students.

While the administration is caught in a quagmire, academic affairs are hardly anything to write home about. The varsity had kept in abeyance the PG nursing program after the administration found it unviable. Also, currently there is an order to “examine the question of centres outside the schools of study”.

The varsity has arbitrarily planned to elevate two of the eight centres, including University Centre for Earth and Space Sciences and Centre for Neutral and Cognitive Sciences, into schools, a decision which was questioned in a recent academic council meeting. Senior faculty members say the university has gone back on a lot of its promises.

Even the non-teaching staff is up in arms as the university administration is not honouring a commitment to build a housing project for which 60 acres of land was allotted in 2010. The university, sources said, is also under pressure to implement correctional measures to prevent suicides on campus.

“A report which was submitted by a committee following the suicide of a student, P Raju, has not been yet made public as the administration does not want to implement the recommendations. In the last two months, there have been two more suicide attempts,” said a student leader.

The university is yet to hold an academic council meeting on Wednesday as the previous one had to be abandoned due to infightings, sources said. “The administration should not just listen to people’s problems, it should also implement resolutions for the benefit of the varsity community,” a senior faculty member said.

Vice-chancellor Ramakrishna Ramaswamy in a written communication with TOI explained that “the financial arrangements between the ILS and the university will be complied as per the MoU and we are monitoring this.”

On issues of faculty recruitment, he wrote individuals approaching courts is not unusual as several academic institutions are facing similar cases. The scholarship program is restricted only to needy students “as per the recommendation of a committee appointed by university,” Ramaswamy said.

On filling of OBC / SC / ST seats, the VC said, “The university announced a special admission drive and some seats were filled through spot admissions on August 30.” Decision on the elevation of centres would be taken only after it is debated in appropriate bodies, including the academic council and executive council, he informed.

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