State of Academia


Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) initially dismissed over 100 staff members on June 30, 2024, due to a funding shortfall from the Tata Education Trust (TET). Following an assurance of funds from TET, TISS promptly reinstated the affected staff, resolving the immediate crisis.

The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) found itself at the center of a controversy after dismissing over 100 contractual staff members, including 55 faculty and nearly 60 non-teaching employees, across its four campuses on June 30, 2024. This drastic move, made without prior notice, primarily impacted the Guwahati campus, where half of the teaching staff and all non-teaching staff were let go. The reason cited for these dismissals was the non-receipt of grants from the Tata Education Trust (TET), which funded their salaries.

On Friday, June 28, staff members were informed of their termination via email. The message, sent by the office of the officiating registrar, Anil Sutar, stated, “In the event of non-receipt of approval/grant from Tata Education Trust, their services would come to an end with effect from June 30.” This sudden notice left many staff members, some of whom had been with TISS for over a decade, shocked and uncertain about the future.

A faculty member from the Guwahati campus expressed their dismay, saying, “Our annual contracts actually ended in May, but at the beginning of this month, we got an email requesting us to continue with institute work till the Tata Trust funding is renewed. We had no inkling that they would not honor the commitment given to us.” Another faculty member added, “We were also working to revamp the entire Masters program in compliance with the New Education Policy during this period. All faculty members worked to develop the new syllabus and courses were allotted for the upcoming semester.”

The TISS Teachers Association held an urgent meeting to discuss the dismissals. According to the administration, they had made several attempts over the past six months to secure the grant from TET. An official from TISS stated, “The institute made several attempts for the release of grants through official correspondence and personal meetings with the Tata Education Trust, but the decision regarding further extension of the grant period has not yet been received from the Tata Education Trust.”

Faculty members linked the dismissals to changes in the University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations, which last year brought TISS under the central government’s purview of appointments along with other deemed-to-be universities receiving over 50% funding from the Center. However, the TISS administration dismissed any connection between the two events.

Just a few days later, on Sunday, TISS announced the withdrawal of the dismissal notices after TET assured that funds would be made available. The institute issued a statement signed by the Registrar, stating, “TET has committed to releasing funds for the salaries of TET project/program faculty and non-teaching staff.” The statement further informed that the dismissal letter dated June 28 was withdrawn immediately and staff members were requested to continue their work. It added, “They are requested to continue their work, and salaries will be released as soon as the TET Support Grant is received by the institute.”

The resolution brought relief to the affected staff. An official from TISS commented, “The institute is now able to continue with the TET Project based contractual staff as it is. Meanwhile, the institute in the future will work on identifying the requirements of the staff and appointing them with a regular process of advertising for the post as per the other UGC-approved appointments.”

A senior TISS official in Mumbai reflected on the situation, highlighting the impact on the institution’s mission and the dedication of the dismissed faculty. “The dismissed faculty members were not just NET-passed PhD scholars but individuals selected by a highly regarded panel of the Tata Education Trust. Many of these professors turned down lucrative offers from newly emerged private universities in Delhi and other metropolitan cities because of their dedication to the TISS style of social science research and interventions.”

Featured image credits: Hindustan Times 

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Lakshita Arora 

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