Promised 'safe passage' to interviews, will DU ad hoc teachers be weeded out by this new screening criteria?

The DUTA said that this "may exclude almost all serving ad hoc and temporary teachers". They said that the recommendations will not give the ad hoc and temporary teachers the opportunity promised
Delhi University | (Pic: PTI)
Delhi University | (Pic: PTI)

The members of the Delhi University Teachers' Association (DUTA) have written to the recently appointed Vice-Chancellor of the university, Dr Yogesh Singh, asking for the withdrawal of a particular point of discussion (agenda item 5.01 of the EC meeting) that is set to be placed before the Executive Council on October 29.

Why does the DUTA want agenda point 5.01 gone?

The recommendations for Screening and/or Shortlisting Criteria for the Direct Recruitment of Assistant Professors in the University Departments and or Colleges say that a minimum of 30 candidates will be considered for the first vacancy and 10 candidates for every additional vacancy shall be called for the interview. For colleges, all shortlisted candidates will be called for interviews. The cut-off for being shortlisted is 65 marks and 55 marks for university departments and colleges respectively according to the marks awarded by the criteria for shortlisting.

The DUTA said that this "may exclude almost all serving ad hoc and temporary teachers". They said that the recommendations will not give the ad hoc and temporary teachers the opportunity promised at a meeting on December 5, 2019, of the then DU VC with the UGC and the MHRD (now Ministry of Education) officials that said that all ad hoc teachers will be shortlisted for an interview. “Provided that the faculty appointed and working on ad hoc/temporary/contract basis and meeting the eligibility criteria shall be shortlisted for interview in the respective university and/or its colleges,” said the record of the discussions.

PhD more important or teaching experience at DU? 

DUTA Treasurer and a professor of Physics at Miranda House, Dr Abha Dev Habib said that DUTA's call will always be for absorption of the ad hoc teachers, but said that even if interviews are being held these ad hoc teachers should get priority. "Restricting the number of shortlisted candidates will mean that not all ad hoc teachers can even be considered for the interview. These teachers have been teaching in DU for decades. It will not be fair to take away even the chance to appear for an interview," she said. "This system puts the 100 per cent weightage on the Selection Committee and from the appointments that have happened in the best of institutions in the past few years, it does not give us much hope in this system. The marks obtained according to the criteria of shortlisting does not hold any significance in the selection," she added.

Not all teachers who had taken up a job as an ad hoc or temporary teacher have a PhD and this can weed them out of the shortlist as there are marks assigned to each level of academic qualification. Dr Habib said that while this criteria or the marks cut-off can be implemented for the outside applicants, this should be relaxed for the ad hoc teachers and they should be given "safe passage" to the interviews keeping the December 5 discussion in mind. "The screening criteria awards 25 per cent weightage to PhD degrees — a disproportionate sum that will exclude all candidates without PhDs. This will be particularly discriminatory in disciplines like English, Economics, Commerce, History and Mathematics where PhDs are difficult to attain early in career. The high weightage also does not take into account the disparity in quality of PhDs done at various universities but will privilege candidates from other places over the incumbents in DU," read the letter from the DUTA.

The UGC Conundrum

The DUTA also criticised the "uncritical urge to adopt the UGC screening criteria" for interviews calling it "dangerous" for the teaching community. They said that the DUTA had already flagged these anomalies in its detailed representation to the Anomaly Committee in September 2018. "The DUTA has repeatedly urged the Committee to revisit the recruitment criterion mentioned in the UGC Regulations but despite the three-year wait, the Anomaly Committee report remains un-notified even as adverse recruitment criteria are sought to be imposed on thousands of incumbent ad-hoc teachers in the university," read the letter to the VC.

The DUTA said that the applicants from marginalised communities will be excluded due to the UGC Regulations 2018, which they think should not be implemented. "In a major blow to social justice as well as a travesty of constitutionally mandated relaxation in the minimum eligibility given to candidates belonging to SC/ST/OBC/PwD categories, the screening criteria as outlined in the UGC Regulations 2018 states that candidates whose score is less than 50 should not be shortlisted at all for the interview – such exclusionary criteria will ensure that constitutionally mandated provisions for reservation are violated," said the DUTA.

They added that the Screening Criteria gives poor recognition to teaching experience by giving only 10 points to teaching experience. "The screening criteria devalues the teaching experience of many years that teachers in an ad hoc capacity have earned. In devaluing this experience and preventing these candidates from even being called to an interview, the screening criteria deprives the university of the rich experience and skillsets earned by our ad hoc colleagues," said the DUTA.

Withdrawal the only way?

The DUTA, in their letter to the VC, said that this capping sought by the administration, together with the screening criteria are tools that will "destroy the livelihood of our incumbent ad hoc teachers". "Instead of serving a flawed and exclusionary appointment process through the use of these divisive criteria, the administration must come up with a modality that ensures absorption as per the DUTA demand thereon," the letter concluded.

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