At a time when one of India’s premiere institutions Jawarharlal Nehru University (JNU) is trying tooth and nail to retain the uniqueness in its academic structure, its administration has decided to cut back on academic spending by half, which has hugely impacted the quality of its education.
The reduction in expenditures on academic programmes supporting teaching and research coupled with wasteful diversion of funds for non-academic activities posed a significant challenge that compromised greatly the functioning of the University.
Financial reports of the last three years suggest that annual academic expenses dropped down from Rs 38.36 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 19.74 crore in 2019-20. Academic expenses include spending on seminars, workshops, journals, publications, teaching aids and research activities.
While expenses on research activities including spending on projects and teachers’ trips to workshops had fallen since 2018 to just Rs2.39 lakh in 2020, expenditure on journals and publications reduced 72% from 2018 to Rs1.15 crore in 2020.
On the other hand, the report also mentioned that fellowships/stipends offered to students have also been reduced from Rs18.22 crore in 2017-18 to Rs2.39 crore in 2019-20, and that there have been delays in payments as well.
Backing up the student’s concern, Prof. Surajit Mazumdar, general secretary of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) said, “The entire effect of this can’t be seen immediately. In the long term, as the system adjusts to a lack of resources, academic expectations will also be adjusted accordingly. Soon, researchers will have no option but to cut corners in their work. As their supervisor, how much can I demand of them when the system does not offer support?”
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Prof Mazumdar also added that there has been a rise in security expenses as well which has made students feel less safe now on the campus. As per the report, security expenditure has increased from Rs9.52 crores to Rs17.37 crores only recently.
Recently, when eight professors raised their voices because of the irregularities in faculty appointments that had taken place, one of them had his laboratory ransacked and his equipment destroyed. As of today, none including the security agency has been held accountable for the attacks.
JNU as a unique place of learning has been facing unprecedented attacks since 2016 as significant changes in the financial allocation, fundamentally damaged the academic functioning of the University.