Faculty shortages have existed in India’s higher education sector at least since the 1980s, but seem to have become permanent today.
GS II: Education
Dimensions of the Article:
- Why is there a Lack of Reliable Data on Faculty Shortages?
- Faculty shortages are not solely a quantitative issue but encompass various dimensions
Why is there a Lack of Reliable Data on Faculty Shortages?
Previous Efforts and Observations:
- In 2009, the Ministry of Human Resource Development established a task force to address the issue of faculty shortages in higher education.
- The task force’s 2011 report, titled ‘Report of the Task Force On Faculty Shortage and Design of Performance Appraisal System,’ highlighted a significant problem.
- The report acknowledged the existence of a substantial shortage of teaching staff in Indian higher education but noted the lack of factual data to support this perception.
Need for Data Collection Mechanism:
- The report emphasized the necessity of establishing a standing mechanism to collect accurate and regular information on the size and quality of faculty resources.
- It recommended that data on faculty members be made accessible on the websites of academic institutions.
- However, despite these recommendations, little progress has been made in implementing a reliable data collection system.
Issues with Current Data Collection:
- The government conducts the annual All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) to collect data on colleges and universities, including faculty numbers.
- However, participation in the survey is voluntary, and the responsibility for data accuracy lies with the institutions themselves.
- This lack of independent verification compromises the reliability of the information provided.
- Another challenge is the widespread use of adjunct or part-time faculty members, and even fictitious “ghost” members, by educational institutions.
- Some institutions count adjunct faculty as part of the regular faculty to present a favorable teacher-student ratio, distorting the true faculty resource estimate.
Consequences of Incomplete Information:
- The absence of reliable data makes it difficult to accurately assess the extent of faculty shortages in higher education.
- It hinders effective planning and policy formulation to address the issue adequately.
- Additionally, incomplete and messy websites of academic institutions further contribute to the lack of transparency and understanding of their faculty bodies.
Faculty shortages are not solely a quantitative issue but encompass various dimensions
There are six types of shortages identified, each requiring different remedial measures:
Disciplinary, Institutional, and Regional Variations:
- Shortages vary across disciplines, institutions, and locations.
- Some areas may experience an oversupply while others face acute shortages.
- Balancing supply and demand in specific disciplines can help alleviate shortages in different institutions or locations.
- Many public institutions struggle to hire faculty despite a pressing need.
- Financial limitations affect state universities, which are often underfunded.
- State governments may not create or approve new positions, and existing ones remain vacant due to insufficient funds.
Reluctance to Hire:
- Some private colleges prioritize profit over hiring sufficient faculty.
- These institutions may opt for less-qualified part-time staff instead of qualified full-time faculty to minimize costs.
- Public institutions face shortages due to reservations for Other Backward Classes and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe groups.
- Reservations can limit the pool of qualified candidates, leading to vacant faculty positions.
- Caste-based discrimination may also contribute to unfilled positions.
Unfavorable Locations and Conditions:
- Faculty shortages can result from the unwillingness of candidates to work in certain institutions due to unfavorable locations or working and living conditions.
- Shortages may exist in terms of qualified candidates, even if the number of applicants with PhDs is sufficient.
- Improving the quality of PhD programs at Indian universities is essential to address this aspect of faculty shortages.
- These six types of shortages are not mutually exclusive and emphasize that faculty shortages are multi-faceted. Addressing the issue requires nuanced policies tailored to specific challenges in different contexts.
-Source: The Hindu