Programme was launched in 2017 ‘in haste’
Srinagar: With an acute dearth of faculty and infrastructure for its Masters in Archaeology programme that was launched two years ago, the University of Kashmir has decided to put new admissions to the course on hold, insiders at the varsity said.
To being with, the varsity administration had introduced the programme “in haste” allegedly due to “personal interests of some officials” the insiders added.
Now, sources said, Vice Chancellor, Prof Talat Ahmad “has given authorization” to put new admissions in the programme on hold.
Without a full fledged department and faculty of its own since its start, the programme has been running from the varsity’s Centre of Central Asian Studies (CCAS) where one permanent faculty member teaches the students assisted by a contractual teacher.
Thirty students from two batches are enrolled at the moment.
Although the KU administration has sanctioned four contractual positions for the department, but due to shortage of subject teachers in Kashmir, they have not been filled.
A KU insider informed that three contractual teachers hired from outside the state recently have refused to join due to “low salary” and situation arising after February 14 Pulwama attack in Kashmir.
“Two of them are doing JRF for which they get around Rs 40,000 a month while as KU pays Rs 35,000 to contractual teachers. It was less than Rs 30,000 last year, so they decided not to join. The third one also did not turn up after the Pulwama incident and the warlike situation that followed,” he said.
The three were supposed to join on March 1, they said.
In the given situation, a KU insider said, the VC authorised the department to put new admissions on hold.
“Because as per UGC regulations, you require at least four assistant professors, two associate professors and a professor,” he informed.
However, with some students expected to complete their doctorate in the field by the end of this year at the varsity, an insider said, that contractual teachers for the subject could be available from next year.
Acknowledging the dearth of faculty for the programme right from the beginning, Registrar KU Prof Nisar Ahmad said.
“I don’t know why it was launched. We were not here. Now we would go ahead with it because the predecessors would have started it with some intention, but we don’t get faculty.”
He hoped that they would be able to hire contractual teachers.
“We are looking for some teachers on contractual basis. We will somehow manage it”.
Asked to confirm if admissions would be done at the department for now, Prof Nisar said, “Hopefully not”.
Before the KU launched the programme “in haste”, well placed sources told Kashmir Reader that field experts “had suggested opening a centre for archaeological research rather than a post graduate programme.”
The centre, sources said, would help in setting up the required infrastructure including laboratories and relevant specimens required to start a postgraduate programme.
“This was a proper way to do it, but they did it in haste. Some people had their own personal interests,” they added.
A teacher said that due to dearth of staff and infrastructure, the Archaeology Department was not able to offer the elective courses of study to students from other departments under the Choice Based Credir System (CBCS).
“After initially floating some credits for the students of other departments, they ultimately denied them the same saying they don’t have faculty and classrooms”.