In 2016, Delhi University was at sixth spot among the top Indian universities. In the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings for 2019, it has dropped to 20. Though six of its affiliated colleges made it to the top 10 among colleges, the slide of DU, where admission hinges on sky-high qualifying marks, indicated its failure to keep up with its peers, including the city’s Jawaharlal Nehru and Jamia Millia Islamia.
The slip is primarily due to diminishing research work and academic activities and the poor faculty-student ratio. According to the NIRF analysis, DU did poorly in the parameters related to teaching, learning and resources (TLR) and research, professional practice and collaborative performance.
On TLR, the sub-factor of poor faculty Jamia, by comparison, improved its ranking from 83 to seven, while JNU continues to feature in the top 10 for the fourth consecutive year. According to teachers and DU officials, the fall has been due to poor management, particularly in not improving the faculty student ratio. The recently concluded Executive Council (EC) meeting found that several crore rupees was unutilised in the annual budget when this could have been used for developing/ improving the university’s research facilities or for paying the salaries of permanent teachers instead of appointing ad-hoc teachers.
“For five years DU has had no teacher appointment. There currently are over 4,000 ad-hoc teachers,” said an EC member requesting anonymity. According to DU Teachers Association president Rajib Ray, the institution desperately needed permanent teachers. “There are colleges where a full department is run with ad-hoc teachers,” he said.
“We need to hire at least 2,000 teachers under the OBC expansion before the EWS recruitment begins.” In research and collaboration too, DU’s score slid from last year’s 58.16 out of 100 to 53.79. Insiders blamed this on the deteriorating condition of the Central Library and inconsistent release of grants for research. DU’s expenditure on seminars and conferences fell from Rs 1.1 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 81.8 lakh in 2017-18. Only last week, finance committee members had expressed concerns about the absence of funding in research and DU’s “jaundiced policies” on research. V K Agarwal, member of the finance panel and DU Court, told TOI, “The General Finance Rules sets a cap of Rs 15,000 on any form of expenditure.
Even financial requirements to urgently repair equipment have to go through the time-consuming e-tendering process and this delays research work.” Former Academic Council member Pankaj Garg pointed out that the Central Library had discontinued the INFLIBNET subscription and cut down on journals and publications. “INFLIBNET gave access to a wide range of journals essential for science research. Mathematica, a software essential for maths, physics and chemistry, was also not renewed,” he said, while noting that unlike in JNU, the faculty at DU was not allowed to access databases or journals from external sources. Several attempts through phone and text messaging did not elicit any answers to TOI’s questionnaire from DU vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi and registrar Tarun K Das.