TISS halts layoffs for now, UGC hires still face uncertain future

Students say while they welcome the decision to halt layoffs, the lack of clarity on the duration of the reprieve is a concern

Part of the TISS Mumbai campus (file photo)
Part of the TISS Mumbai campus (file photo)


Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has announced the temporary withdrawal of termination notices issued to 55 teachers and 60 non-teaching staff. The decision, communicated in a press statement released on Sunday, marks a temporary halt to what many have criticised as arbitrary dismissals under supposed financial constraints.

There was widespread public outrage as a controversy erupted over the BJP-led Union government’s directive to terminate employees whose salaries were funded by the Tata Education Trust (TET).

Uncertainty, however, still looms over the future of these positions. As some of the students pointed out, while they welcomed the decision to halt terminations, the lack of clarity on the duration of the reprieve raises serious concerns. Sources have said TET will be providing Rs 5 crore for TET contractual positions that are pending.

Meanwhile, a statement released by the Progressive Students Forum (PSF) highlighted a glaring omission concerning the termination of three faculty members and one administrative staff from Advanced Centre for Women’s Studies (ACWS), whose salaries were funded by the UGC (University Grants Commission). Despite assurances from the UGC that funding for ACWS will be sustained, the TISS administration proceeded with the terminations citing financial reasons. 

The TISS press release does not specify the timeline for which funding from TET will continue, leaving employees and students apprehensive about a potential recurrence of terminations once the committed funds are depleted. Additionally, the latest decision doesn’t address teachers in the ACWS, whose salaries were sourced from plan grants allocated by the UGC.

Research scholars from the institute expressed concern regarding the scrapping of the position. “We have seen what’s happening around higher education institutes in this country in the past, and it appears that the current TISS administration under the BJP-led Union government has taken this decision to terminate 119 positions at TISS deliberately, and might attempt to create vacancies for politically motivated appointments in future,” one of them said.

Another student added, “It is disheartening to think that the very reason we opted for this programme may no longer be available to guide us.” They also say with TISS preparing to reopen on 8 July, the Women's Studies programme is grappling with a significant faculty shortage.

"With just three professors available (one of them on medical leave), there are growing concerns about dissertation supervision and the overall quality of education. This issue is particularly pressing as a new batch of students is set to join soon,” one student said 

Screen grab of the press release
Screen grab of the press release
TISS website

The most concerning point for students is the vitiation of the democratic environment on campus. Both teachers and students should be able to express their opinions freely, whether on campus or social media, without fear of suspension, they say.

The terminated faculty have over a decade of experience, making their dismissal even more troubling. “These professors have not only excelled in their academic roles but have also gone the extra mile to support students from all backgrounds, providing resources outside the syllabus for our personal and professional growth,” a student said.

Amidst the saffronisation in and around universities, and the silencing of protest against arbitrary, undemocratic decisions that curb the autonomy of educational institutions and their students, TISS now seems to be the latest entrant to the club.

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