New Delhi: Over 300 teaching staff members were hired through online interviews for central universities, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) during the lockdown period, the Modi government told Parliament Tuesday.
The online recruitment process had run into a controversy in August and had to be temporarily put on hold only to be resumed later in September.
According to the Ministry of Education, there have been 350 recruitments across various higher education institutes during the lockdown. They include 116 in central universities, 170 in IITs, 46 in IIMs and 18 in IIITs.
As the candidates could not physically appear before selection committees due to the lockdown, which was enforced on 24 March, the institutions held online interviews, the ministry said.
“To curb unfair practices and ensure fair selection of candidates, University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued guidelines for selection of candidates,” the ministry said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha. “The staff is appointed as per the UGC (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) Regulations 2018 as amended from time to time.”
“To ensure transparency in online interview, the time of interview is kept progressively i.e. one candidate is called for video call at a pre-assigned time so that full opportunity is available to each candidate to explain him/herself. During this period, other candidates are completely out of the video call,” it added.
A stop-start process
The online recruitment process had run into controversy after teachers from Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association (JNUTA) complained to the ministry about discrepancies in appointments in the university. The ministry had then temporarily banned the recruitment only to resume it early this month.
JNUTA’s complaint with the recruitment process in the university was that Vice-Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar was inviting subject experts of his own choice as members of the selection committee for the interviews.
While the process was put on hold on 25 August, the Ministry of Education had on 3 September sent a letter to all universities asking them to re-start online recruitment.
Now with the UGC asking colleges and universities to begin their academic session in November, the ministry has once again reiterated to colleges that they can hire teachers for vacant posts, through physical or online interviews.
Confirming the development, a senior official in the ministry of education, who deals with central universities, told ThePrint, “We had to restrict online recruitment after we received some complaints from individual universities over discrepancies in hiring. All those issues have now been sorted out and we have allowed universities to recruit teachers through online interviews as well as offline.”
“If colleges re-open from November, colleges will need teaching faculty, hence we have allowed universities and colleges to go ahead with the recruitment process whether it’s online or offline,” he added.