Patna University teachers irked over Bihar govt apathy in funding 

Patna University, with 22,000 students, gets about ₹36 crore a year as salary grant from the Bihar government while CUSB, with about 1,000 students, gets around ₹60 crore a year, says a teachers’ body

NH Photo
NH Photo

Navendu Sharma

Fund crunch has hit the Patna University’s functioning hard. Its internal resource generation is dismal and the state government’s grants are erratic and inadequate to meet its needs.

Patna University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) president Randhir Kumar Singh says the varsity, with about 22,000 students on its rolls, gets approximately ₹36 crore a year as salary grant from the Bihar government. In comparison, Central University of South Bihar (CUSB) received approximately ₹300 crore for a five-year period, which works out to an average of ₹60 crore per annum, according to a CUSB official. This central university has about 1,000 students only!

Monthly tuition fee has remained unchanged for several decades now. Singh says it is still ₹12.50 a month; however, self-financing courses have a higher fee structure. “The state government gives no money other than salary grants. Even this grant is given after a gap of several months,” he says. As a result, teachers go without salary for months at a stretch. Fund crunch has forced PU not to release any money towards annual contingency grant to any department for the last two fiscal years, making purchases of even chalk and duster difficult.

It’s not that the Bihar government is short of funds. Its education budget has gone up from just ₹4,281 crore in 2005-06 to ₹25,000 crore in the current fiscal year, which comes to 20% of the total budget. Also, money is no constraint for the projects which catch the political masters’ fancy. Early in January this year, the state government spent over ₹100 crore on grand celebration of the 350th birth anniversary of the last Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in Patna.

A ₹500-crore Bihar Museum is coming up near Patna Women’s College. An international-standard convention centre is also coming up near Gandhi Maidan at an estimated cost of ₹500 crore. Over ₹100 crore was spent to build Buddha Smriti Park near Patna Junction, which was opened by the Dalai Lama on May 27, 2010. But the PU has not been a beneficiary of the government’s largesse.

It is hardly surprising that research work has come to a standstill in PU. Varsity sources said no scholar has been registered for PhD degree for the last one year. Head of the post-graduate English department, Shiv Jatan Thakur said PhD research test (for selection of candidates) was last held in 2013. Many scholars face the risk of forfeiting their fellowships awarded by various institutions due to delay in PhD registration.

“Talking of research work is meaningless as overburdened teachers struggle to complete the courses of studies. Besides, teachers have little motivation for any serious research as they are promoted even otherwise,” says Nawal Kishore Choudhary, former dean of social sciences.

The scenario could have been better if the state’s political leadership had pushed for PU’s conversion into a central university. But even in its centenary year, the state government has no plan to do so, Education minister Ashok Chaudhary told National Herald no such push was planned.

Magadh Mahila College (MMC) principal Dharmshila Prasad, who is an alumna of the varsity, having joined it as a student in 1967, feels the quality of both students and teachers has gone down. “Many bright students are migrating to other places for quality education, while teachers here work under excessive pressure,” she said, adding, “What does the government do in the PU’s centenary year remains to be seen.”

At a meeting with the Vice Chancellors and pro-vice chancellors of state varsities held at the Raj Bhawan on May 16, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar seemed to be paying homilies, “For students, it was a matter of pride to be studying at Patna University and its colleges. We have to retain the glory of those days.”

But, for now, the ground situation was summed up by MMC’s Prasad as “sab kuch Ram bharose (everything is at God’s mercy).”

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