Vacancies for teaching staff are directly proportional to the level of seniority in central universities, with unfilled posts of professors vastly outnumbering those of assistant or associate professors, analysis of data shared by the Education Ministry in the Lok Sabha on Monday shows.
A comparative analysis of the data also shows the trend is starker when it comes to positions reserved for candidates from the SC, ST, OBC communities — even in prestigious institutes such as IIMs.
The ministry data came in response to a question by MPs A M Ariff (of CPM) and D Ravikumar (of DMK).
It showed that of the 18,956 teaching posts (regular mode) in central universities, 6,180 or 33.2% were vacant as on December 1, 2022.
A category-wise analysis (see chart) after taking both reserved and unreserved positions into account shows that while the share of vacancies for assistant professors was 20.7%, it went up to 45.08% for associate professors-level staff, and further up to 59.8% in case of professors.
While the general category vacancies — 12.9% (assistant professor); 25.08% (associate professor) and 45.07% (professor) — reflected a similar trend, the gaps are wider in the SC, SC, OBC, EWS categories.
In the ST category, for instance, while the share of unfilled posts for assistant professors is 26.9%, it’s 76.8% for associate professors and 87.3% for professors.
The OBC representation is no better.
The IIMs are not immune to the problem either. IIMs and IITs follow a flexi-cadre system and there are no fixed sanctioned posts at each teaching grade like the central universities have. IIMs, though, are not exempt from the reservation policy.
The ministry data shows that of the total 1,566 faculty posts at IIMs, 493 or 31.4% are vacant. Of these, while 22.2% are in the general category, 54.6% are SC posts, and 53.2% are reserved for OBC. The share of the ST and EWS categories in the vacancies is the highest — 85% and 87.5%, respectively.
Pressure groups within the IIMs have been pointing out that the lack of social diversity in the faculty positions at the premier business schools mirrors the admission pattern in PhD programmes, where the percentage of applications accepted is similar across social categories, but the pool of candidates from the socially disadvantaged classes has remained shallow over the years.
The issue of direct recruitment to the professor-level posts has divided experts.
Abha Dev Habib, associate professor at Miranda House Department of Physics, said direct recruitments to senior positions can be beneficial. She said many who have proven themselves in the field of teaching and research do not want to wait for promotions inordinately in their home institutions.
“Also, they can supervise more PhD candidates. The institute can showcase more publications and output in terms of research. That is why direct entry to these positions was allowed in the first place,” she added.
However, Rajeev Kumar, professor, School of Computer and Systems Sciences, JNU, said central universities should follow the IIT/ IIM model where gaining lateral entry to the level of associate professors and above is tough. “In the absence of that, fairness in promotions and seniority cannot be maintained,” Prof Kumar added.