Degree colleges face shortage of experienced faculty; rely on freshers, alumni and guest lecturers.
BANGALORE: The UGC Pay Review Committee's recommendation of a 70 per cent pay hike for teachers at aided, unaided and government colleges in Karnataka couldn't have come at a better time. Degree colleges in the city have been grappling with the issue of rising attrition in departments like computer science, biotechnology and commerce.
"There are 30 per cent vacancies across colleges in the city, at any given point of time. The figure goes up to 40 per cent in government colleges, where bureaucracy and long delays has had an impact on hiring trained faculty," Prof. KE Radhakrishna, adviser, Bangalore North Education Society, said.
With qualified candidates opting for non-teaching jobs, college managements are readily hiring freshers. "It is hard to find seasoned faculty, so we invest on training freshers. We provide infrastructure and facilities to train them and it in turn helps address attrition," Fr. Daniel Fernandes, principal, St. Joseph's College of Commerce, said.
Some courses are more in demand and often see higher attrition among faculty. "Attrition usually affects departments like computer science, where we a good 10 per cent leave within two to three years," says Shiju Sebastian, public relation officer, Christ University said.
Lecturers are able to switch careers because their skills are in demand across industries from IT to call centres.
"Finding experienced teachers for courses like commerce and computer science has become increasingly difficult. The problem is more acute in government and unaided colleges," K.G. Lokesh of Maharani's College for Women and president of Bangalore University College Teachers Association, said. BUCTA has over 1,500 members from the city's government, aided and unaided colleges.
The primary reasons cited for attrition include poor pay scales compared to industry standards and lack of trained or experienced faculty. "The talent pool is small and lacks quality. We lose staff to various industries because of better pay scales. Departments like computer science and newer courses in the management stream function with floating staff, whose number varies with each passing month" Dr B.S. Srikanta, principal, RBANMS College and secretary, Bangalore University Principals Association, said.
Certain degree colleges have resorted to use guest faculty in departments hard hit by attrition. "Many unaided colleges have been known to use guest faculty to cover syllabus," Lokesh added. Tapping into the alumni network has also provided relief to this manpower crunch. "We rely on our large pool of alumni to find resource persons on various subjects relevant to courses. By being accommodative of their needs like starting college early at 7.30 am and staying open on holidays, these professionals can improve the learning experience of students," Fr Daniel added.
The recent pay hike promises a 70 per cent increase in salaries, which brings hope to many. "The pay hike was brought in as a measure to attract and retain faculty in colleges. The problem of pay disparity has been addressed by the UGC committee," Dr Srikanta told DNA.
As fewer candidates opt for higher education, the quality of teachers available in the market nosedives. Currently, enrolment in higher education stands at a dismal nine to 10 per cent. "Number of students opting for post graduation has dropped, affecting the quality of candidates available in the job market. The qualifications and communication skills of candidates for teaching posts don't often meet university standards or guidelines," Prof Radhakrishna remarked.
The National Knowledge Commission wants to increase the GER to 15 per cent, which means opening up at least 5,000 colleges, which means additional five lakh teachers have to be hired.