Published: 17th June 2020
Engineering faculty made to do door-to-door campaign for admission amid COVID-19. Asked to upload pics on WhatsApp group as proof
Teachers from an engineering college in Coimbatore have been asked to take selfies with the potential candidates they interacted with and post it on a common Whatsapp group
Gone are the days when sales agents showed up at doorsteps to sell beauty products or incense sticks. Engineering colleges have deployed their faculty to knock on doors to sell admissions.
While this not only increases the risk of COVID-19 spread among the faculty and the families they call on, it also creates a system where teachers are appraised based on their marketing skills and not their teaching abilities.
What's more? Teachers from an engineering college in Coimbatore have been asked to take selfies with the potential candidates they interacted with and post it on a common Whatsapp group, showed leaked conversations from the group. While the principal posts, "Good evening all Update your works as per our formate (sic)," a faculty member posts the name of the student, the caste community, status of admission confirmation and the stream they're interested in.
Some of the other messages sent from the principal included: Need frequent updates; Send details (in response to the selfies); Reply immediately; Dept other details; send photocopy of all kinds of movement; As per our scheduled should be followed and Good morning all Where are you all, what we have discussed yesterday, from 7:30 am onward starts field work, kindly reply me immediately.
In response teachers posted pictures of name-board of streets and villages they are at, or student details. "Positive_5 (come and visit the college) Arts _2, not interested_3, tech_1," was one of the update given by a teachers.
Speaking to Express, the principal of the college initially denied that faculty members were sent for door-to-door admissions canvassing. "After I heard such allegations I have asked teachers to assemble at the college," he said.
He later said that the college has 57 teachers and only six were called for online classes and that the other teachers were at their home towns. When questioned about the pictures sent by the teachers, he said, "Oh, they must have gone for something related to a quiz competition. I will make sure none of my teachers go out anywhere. It will not happen hereafter. I will take care of it," he assured and even added that he will take action on any faculty who went searching for admissions.
E Balagurusamy, a former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University and a senior educationalist told Express that this practice of sending teachers door-to-door for admissions was extremely unethical for two reasons. "On the one hand, the college is using teachers to create a bias among students and parents. Parents are often convinced to decide in a jiffy. On the other hand, using teachers as marketing agents distracts them from their actual job," he said adding that while this was not illegal, it was very unethical. "When I was the Vice-Chancellor of Anna University, I've taken action on several colleges for engaging in unethical advertisement practices. But demand for engineering is at an all-time low now," he said.
The event, however, is not an isolated incident. A recently resigned faculty member from an engineering college in Karur claimed that his former colleagues are being coerced into doing door-to-door canvassing for admissions. He told Express that he resigned from the college owing to delayed payments and pressure from the management to participate in admission duties.
He said, "This year teachers were asked to do door-to-door canvassing in their own vehicles during the lock down because they did not want the college to be caught," he said. Another engineering college from Kuppanur, Salem, through a digital poster, called for applications for 18 vacant assistant professors post.
However, the poster said, "Appointment will be provided based on Admissions (10) only. Salary Rs 20,000 PM and Apart from Salary Incentive will be Rs 15,000 per Admission."
Admissions, this year, has been delayed by the lockdown and colleges are likely to reopen only in August or even later. While many class 12 students are yet to complete their public exams, colleges have already started the admissions process.
“The colleges have completely ignored the well being of the faculty. In many colleges they are threatening not to pay their salaries or terminate them, if teachers refuse to do ‘admission duties,” said KM Karthik, the founder of the All India Private Colleges Employees Union.
Speaking to Express, S Apoorva, the principal secretary to the Higher Education Department said that while college managements can use the help of teachers in the admission process, they cannot force or leverage teachers into doing it. “As demand for engineering admissions have come down significantly, students can get admissions through the State counselling itself,” she said adding that no college can send a teacher to canvas for admission in a red zone.