Deepening crisis: With 62 percent teaching positions vacant, Karnataka Universities face severe faculty shortage

All major universities are facing at least a 50 percent shortage of teaching staff, causing concern among the student community.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jun 24, 2024 | 9:00 AM Updated Jun 24, 2024 | 9:00 AM

Karnataka University Mysore Mangaluru Teaching Staff Higher Education Minister BJP Congress

Karnataka’s higher education system is facing a crisis, with 62 percent of teaching positions remaining vacant in its universities for the past several years, putting students’ futures in jeopardy.

This severe faculty shortage is not only threatening the academic prospects of students but also causing deep concern among university officials committed to ensuring a solid educational foundation for the next generation.

All the major universities are facing at least a 50 percent shortage of teaching staff, causing concern among the student community. It may be noted that not even a single university has a full complement of teaching staff.

Even renowned universities such as the University of Mysore, Karnataka University (Dharwad), Karnataka State Akkamahadevi Women’s University (KSAWUV), Vijayapura and Mangalore University have over 60 percent of teaching posts left vacant.

The universities are urgently seeking the government’s attention to strengthen the manpower in the varsities. Despite the vice-chancellors writing several letters to the government, the issue has remained unaddressed for the last couple of years.

The vice-chancellors and registrar stress the need for urgent action to address this gap and uphold the standards of excellence in the state’s universities.

It may also be noted that several teaching staff are retiring in a month or two, raising further concerns for the universities as the government has yet to notify filling the vacant teaching posts.

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Acute faculty shortage in Karnataka varsities

Karnataka’s universities are in a state of alarm due to an acute faculty shortage, with 62 percent of teaching positions, including senior professor roles, remaining unfilled for the past few years.

With barely a couple of months left for the start of the new academic year 2024-25, all the universities including Hampi University, which exclusively takes up research works, are facing shortage of teaching staff.

As per the information received by the South First from the universities, University of Mysore, which is the oldest university in the state, is facing the highest teaching staff crunch, with 76 percent posts remaining vacant.

Of the total 453 teaching posts sanctioned, only 109 are filled, leaving a whopping 344 posts vacant.

In Dharwad’s Karnataka University, a total of 345 teaching posts have been sanctioned. Among these 135 have been filled, while 210 remain vacant, which amounts to 61 percent of the teaching posts being vacant.

At  KSAWUV in Vijayapura, as many as 103 posts for teaching have been sanctioned. Of these, 41 are filled and 62 are vacant. The lone women’s university in Karnataka, KSAWUV is facing a 60 percent staff crunch.

In Mangalore University, a total of 154 teaching posts have been sanctioned. Among these, only 70 posts have been filled and 84 remain vacant, which amounts to 54.5 percent shortage in teaching staff.

At Belagavi’s Rani Channamma University, 145 teaching posts have been sanctioned. Currently, 86 of these posts are filled and 59 remain vacant, leading to a 40.6 percent staff crunch.

At Vijayanagar’s Kannada University (Hampi University), a total of 73 teaching posts have been sanctioned. Among these, 40 have been filled and 33 remain vacant, resulting in a 45.2 percent shortage in teaching faculty.

It may also be noted that among the currently filled senior teaching positions, several incumbents are set to retire by the end of this year. It might further exacerbate  the existing shortage of teaching staff in the universities.

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Urgent calls for action amid staffing crisis 

While the number of vacant teaching positions might increase further in the coming days, the universities officials have expressed helplessness, pointing towards the government’s lack of response to their letters on the matter.

The vice-chancellors and registrars of all the universities are said to have written to the government every quarter, urging them to fill the vacant posts at the earliest.

However, the government appears to be in deep slumber as it is yet to notify or begin the process to fill the vacant teaching posts in the universities.

University of Mysore’s vice-chancellor Prof Lokanath NK told South First, “We are running the university with merely 30 percent teaching staff, while the remaining 70 percent of the sanctioned teaching positions remain vacant.”

“We are able to manage by recruiting guest professors for the vacant posts. We have written several times to the government about filling these positions. We have only received assurances but no concrete developments have been witnessed, ” said the dismayed vice-chancellor.

Belagavi’s Rani Channamma University Registrar Rajashree Jainapur told South First, “We are short by 40 to 50 professors in the university alone. We have written to the government to fill the vacant posts.”

“The higher authorities are on the verge of approving the Hyderabad-Karnataka posts and likely to fill backlog positions as well. We are managing by recruiting guest professors,” added Registrar Jainapur.

Hampi University vice-chancellor Dr DV Paramashivamurthy told South First, “Around 45 percent of the sanctioned teaching posts are vacant in our university. This is exclusively a research university. It has no affiliated colleges and is entirely focused on research.”

“The shortage in staff impacts the research work. As per the UGC guidelines, a senior professor is allowed to guide a maximum of eight students, an associate professor is allowed to guide six students and assistant professor can guide maximum of four students.”

“Of the total sanctioned posts, 33 remain vacant. If the government fails to fill these positions, then we will not be able to provide admission to at least 180 to 200 students. It is not only a big loss to students but also for the university as well,” VC Paramashivamurthy said, urging to fill the positions at the earliest.

He also appealed to the government to provide more grants for the university expenses.

“The university expenses are around ₹35 lakh to ₹40 lakh every month. The government has allocated mere ₹1.5 crore for a year. How can we run a university with meagre grants?” asked Paramashivamurthy.

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Minister Sudhakar blames BJP for staff crunch

Criticising the previous BJP government for opening new universities, Minister for Higher Education Dr MC Sudhakar assured that the government will initiate steps to fill all the vacant posts in next four years.

Minister Dr Sudhakar told South First, “These posts have been vacant for a very long time. Some of the universities’ statutes were not ready and others have been sent to the governor for approval.”

“There were a lot of irregularities in the recruitment process for universities  as well. We are planning to recruit for all the sanctioned teaching posts through the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA), using a strict examination process,” said the minister.

He pointed out, “We have started to fill the vacant positions. We approved recruitment for some of the teaching staff in Raichur University recently. The universities have to come out with proposals for the recruitment.”

Blaming the previous BJP government, Sudhakar said, “There are a lot of issues and problems since new universities were opened in most districts. It has impacted the revenue of the existing universities.”

“The previous government started new universities, with a purpose of establishing universities in every district. However, this has caused a lot of concerns for the existing universities. Without conducting any studies and considering other aspects, BJP started new universities,” said the Minister for Higher Education.

He continued, “These new universities have affected the existing universities in such a way that while the expenditure has remained the same, the revenue has drastically decreased. The universities are struggling to pay pensions to their retired employees. The financial conditions of the universities are not healthy.”

“The Congress has promised to the youth of the state that after the party comes to power, they will fill all the backlog posts including vacant teaching posts. We will stand by our promise and continue to fill the vacant posts,” the minister said.

“It takes at least a year to finish the recruitment process. We will begin the recruitment at the earliest and in the next four years, the government will make sincere efforts to fill all the vacant positions,” Minister Sudhakar said, adding that the government is not facing any kind of financial issues.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)

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