The two-day convention organised by University Teachers' Network to discuss how to improve the quality of education at the universities of the country has highlighted one of the biggest reasons why standards have deteriorated: recruitment of teachers based on their political affiliation. While this is not a new phenomenon, in recent times the culture of appointing teachers who have strong links with the party in power has reached extreme proportions. Regional and political identities get preference during the recruitment process instead of academic results and research work. The result is predictable—Appointment of teachers who are less qualified and capable than other candidates. Apart from the total arbitrariness of such a trend, the consequences for higher education are quite deadly.
Reportedly, university authorities are more interested in increasing their “vote bank” by recruiting teachers of poor quality, but of their ilk. For meritorious students this is frustrating as they are deprived of the kind of education that they had aspired for in institutions reputed to be the best in the country. Universities are places of highest learning and intellectual stimulation that will encourage progressive thinking. They must uphold the highest moral principles that will be imbibed by those who come to study in them.
Universities are places where knowledge is expanded and created through ground-breaking research. Unfortunately, for most of our public universities research is very negligible. In fact, teachers are getting promoted without doing any research which does not conform to the standard criteria of promotion in such institutions.
To have a large number of teachers appointed mainly because of their political allegiance runs contrary to the ethos, philosophy and prestige of university education. It is high time that these universities are freed from the shackles of politicisation. Recruiting teachers based on merit only will be the first step towards that.