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NUJS teachers & students air grievances in letters; VC vows to improve faculty

NUJS: Saving itself?
NUJS: Saving itself?

Late last week NUJS Kolkata faculty and elected student representatives submitted letters to the college administration running to dozens of pages of grievances, including declining faculty standards and opaque, apparently arbitrary decision-making from the top, reported the Times of India earlier today.

Following an academic council (AC) meeting yesterday (21 July), vice chancellor (VC) Professor Ishwara Bhatt agreed to several changes in respect of future recruitment and staffing processes at the college.

Noojie SJA: Taking up the cause

The Student Juridical Association (SJA) wrote, a letter to the registrar, academic council and executive council members on behalf of the NUJS student body on 19 July 2013.

The letter closed with the students urging the recipients “to treat this matter with the utmost urgency and act upon it in a way that can restore NUJS to its former glory of boasting the best faculty in the country”.

In particular, students complained about the recent departure of well-respected and qualified faculty members and the administration’s slow progress in filling the vacancies, especially in terms of permanent faculty:

“Not only is it becoming curiously difficult for a prestigious institution like ours to retain its best faculty, but its inability to find suitable replacements is even more tragic. A natural consequence of this problem has been that many a time, teachers are compelled to double up for courses that are not their area of specialization or are overburdened with too many courses.”

Furthermore, new candidates were neither being screened as rigorously as before nor were the positions advertised properly, alleged the SJA, resulting in one teacher who had not yet obtained his LLM degree, teaching a compulsory subject such as banking law.

Bhatt told Legally India that all future society, committee and hiring positions would be placed before faculty members to take into account their inclinations and preferences.

He added that they would aim to recruit for all the vacant positions at the college – two associate professors, and four assistant professors, according to Bhatt – within around “three months or so”.

On top of that, the SJA pointed out perceived issues in transparency, relating to exam grading, unfair allocation of elective courses on a first-emailed-first-served basis and anti-plagiarism measures.

[Click here to view copy of the students’ letter]


A letter by faculty members Dr Arup Poddar and Dr Sreenivasulu, dated 20 July, echoed some of the students’ concerns, bemoaning how “policy making at NUJS has become very opaque, particularly in relation to academic matters”, a “dwindling” number of faculty meetings.

The teachers alleged that faculties’ subject allocations were never addressed adequately, that “academic policies are changed at the drop of a hat” and rarely adequately notified, a mushrooming of committees under the VC that were not staffed in order of seniority, and that grace marks were awarded arbitrarily and affecting “the sanctity of evaluation done by the teacher”.

NLSIU Bangalore and GNLU Bangalore administrators have faced related allegations in respect of apparently discretionary retroactive re-grading, or so-called “goodness marks” in GNLU’s case.

The NUJS faculty members in their letter also accused the VC of “ostensible favouritism” in recent appointments, due to comparatively less-qualified hires than others having had “prior relations with” the current VC, who also sat on the selection committee.

They also raised grievances in respect of teachers’ emoluments.

[Click here to read faculty’s petition]

Bhatt said that some faculty members had unfortunately left the college because they had been offered higher positions – such as a jump to associate professor from assistant professor – at other law schools.

He noted that the academic council, which includes Nalsar Hyderabad professor Amita Dhanda and 10 others, including the VC, would be more closely involved in rewarding and retaining teachers.

“We are committed to the cause of upholding the education standard and we’ll work as a team,” said Bhatt.

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