The Union Budget 2020 released by the Government has left Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) highly dismayed for not addressing their proposals and grievances even after a series of strikes and protests.
The union budget 2020 passed by the Government has left the DUTA extremely disappointed for not paying heed to the deepening crisis in public-funded higher education. Despite the strikes by the professors of University of Delhi (DU), the Government, in its budgetary allocation, still continues on its path of privatization by reducing grants and promoting a loan funded education through allocating a greater budget, with an increase of 100 crores to Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA). A large part of it is earmarked for expensive bureaucratic schemes such as world-class universities and others, causing fear of promotion in disparity and institutional hierarchy in the sector. The budget also encourages commercialisation and obstructs the traditional classroom teaching by mentioning a separate provision for full online degree programs.
Image Credits: DU Beat Archives
Amrita Ajay, a professor from English department, Maitreyi college says, “I am not sure if it’s going to be a good model as there is no substitute for classroom teaching, in the world the MOOC’s have only taken up these causes but, I don’t know how far these online degrees contribute in terms of their knowledge increasing.” She further says that she is a little apprehensive for the same. The aggregate increase in the budgetary allocation for higher education from INR 38317 crores to INR 39466 crores presents a marginal increase of 2.79 % and from this as well a large part of the money is earmarked for expenditure which is of no direct benefit for students or teachers. There is also a reduction in the grants allocation for central universities from INR 2593 crores to INR 2298 crores.
Rajib Ray, DUTA President said, “The DUTA fears that the slashing of grants in higher education will affect permanent recruitments and promotions of teachers across central universities. These universities are already being filled to push a large number of vacancies with short term contractual appointments instead of attracting and retaining academic talent.” He further continued, “This scenario will eventually lead to a sharper decline in the quality and academic standards of these institutions.” The Economic survey clearly points out that this model of education deprives the students belonging to financially middling and poor families of higher educational studies.
The corporate greed and interest in having financial institutions have left the Government completely blind to the widespread protests in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), University of Hyderabad (UoH), DU, and other universities against the increment in the tuition fees, along with hostel and mess charges. The budget pushes the traditionally worshipped teachers to the lowest of the priority list as it allocates greater funds to begin virtual classrooms associated with the online degree programs. This somewhere, even highlights that the need to maintain and upgrade classrooms, laboratories, and libraries would be ignored and will stand in high contrast to the Government’s scheme of world-class type universities.
With respect to the Government’s model of having a loan sponsored higher education system, the DUTA president said, ” the lessons of the US debt crisis, in which the share of unrecovered student loans was extremely large, does not seem to have gone home. The substitution of direct subsidy by loans may assist private financiers in the short term, but it is a recipe for a disaster waiting to happen.”
Feature image caption: DUTA strike against the recommendation of 7th pay revision.
Feature image credits: DU Beat
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