The lack of teachers in higher education

Source: The post is based on the article “The lack of teachers in higher education” published in The Hindu on 30th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Education

Relevance: Reasons behind shortage of faculties in higher educational institutions

News: Faculty shortages in India have become a permanent issue and obstacles remain in finding a solution to faculty shortages.

What are the obstacles in finding a solution to faculty shortages?

a)) lack of reliable data on current faculty shortages in colleges and universities and b) the partial understanding of faculty shortages as merely a quantitative issue.

Why is there no reliable data on faculty shortages?

In 2009, the task force set up by the Ministry of Human Resource Development said that there is no standing mechanism to collect the information on vacant faculty positions.

The report called for a standing mechanism to monitor the size and quality of faculty and suggested that data on faculty members should be made available on the website of every academic institution. 

However, even after more than a decade, most academic institutions have incomplete websites containing only partial information about their faculties.

Moreover, the government collects data on the number of faculty members, for the annual All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE).

However, AISHE is a voluntary process for various institutions and the data provided by the institutions is also not verified by any independent agency.

Most colleges also have adjunct faculty members and even ghost members. They are often counted as part of the regular faculty.

Hence, all these issues make it impossible to get a reliable estimate of faculty shortages.

Are shortages a quantitative issue?

Shortages of faculty is not only a quantitative issue. There are other factors also involved in it like:

First, there may be a demand supply gap of faculties in some places because the number of faculty members varies across disciplines, institutions and locations. Therefore, the gap between the demand and supply needs to be addressed.

Second, faculty shortages for most of the public institutions occur due to the lack of funds. Almost all state universities, despite the need for faculties, are unable to hire them because they do not have sufficient funds.

Third, many private colleges show unwillingness to hire faculties because their motive is to earn profit. They hire less faculties and make them do more work. They also hire less qualified people to keep costs down.

Fourth, the reservation of caste in the public institution also creates problems in hiring faculties from the specific caste. Because the reservations reduce the pool of qualified people. It also leads to vacant positions due to the unavailability of qualified applicants.

Fifth, positions also remain vacant due to the unwillingness among faculty members to work at select institutions due to their unfavourable location and/or the working and living conditions.

Sixth, there may also be qualitative issues for the vacant positions. Despite a huge number of candidates for faculty positions, only a small proportion of them may be competent for the post.

Hence, there is a need for a robust policy to address the issue of faculty shortages.

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