‘Faculty shortage main reason for fall in AU ranking’

By Sumit Bhattacharjee
A file photo of students playing cricket in Andhra University in Visakhapatnam. (Source: K.R. Deepak)

A number of factors, including shortage of teaching staff, have pulled down Andhra University in the recently released NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework) ranking.

In the overall ranking, AU slipped to the 48th position in the current year from 36th in 2020. In the ranking under universities, it stood 24 against 19 and under the engineering colleges category, its rank fell to 74 from 69.

One of the main reasons for the oldest and the biggest State-owned university’s fall in ranking is said to be the shortage of teaching staff. The university has not recruited a single permanent teaching staff member in the last one decade and those present have retired over the years, reducing the staff strength from the sanctioned 1,200 to 341. Till about 2020, the permanent teaching staff strength was around 356 and at present it is 241. The teacher-student ratio has fallen from 64 to 58.

In some of the departments such as history there is no permanent faculty and in some key departments such as physics and chemistry, the show is being run by one or two permanent professors.

“Though AU has recruited about 450 contract and guest faculty this cannot better the rank, as the assessment is based on permanent postings,” said the Vice-Chancellor Prof. P.V.G.D. Prasad Reddy.

The availability of permanent teaching faculty has added benefit as their research publications are also taken into account in the ranking framework. This deficiency also contributed to the lower rank, he added.

However, the nine-decade-old university fared well in the external perceptions and this was the saving grace, he said.

Fund scarcity

The Vice-Chancellor also felt that it was difficult for State-owned public universities to compete with private ones as there was disparity in all aspects right from funding to liberty in recruitment. “Even Central universities have good funding, but our funds are meagre,” he remarked.

Though the State government had given clearance to recruit 469 teachers, the issue has been pending in the court for the past few years.

It is learnt that AU is mulling to recruit teachers on tenure-based criteria and use the services of the teachers from aided colleges who have been surrendered to the State government.

“If the government agrees, then at least 10 to 15 of them can be taken on deputation by AU,” said Prof. Prasad Reddy.


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