Letting our professors just profess ideas

The wise and holistic utilization of human resources is the primary and undeniable precondition for the overall development of any nation, argues the writer.

Abishek Karmakar

Abishek Karmakar

The Statesman


Representational image. It be claimed that human resources are being misused or, to be more specific, disrupted in such a manner that harms the whole academic ecosystem, says the writer. PHOTO: THE STATESMAN

July 11, 2024

NEW DELHI – The wise and holistic utilization of human resources is the primary and undeniable precondition for the overall development of any nation. What if Virat Kohli is compelled to play a guitar instead of playing cricket? What if Udit Narayan is compelled to author story books instead of singing? What if a Judge of any court is compelled to do the work of a typist? These will bring perils and jeopardize the existing ecosystem.

Almost the same is going on with professors teaching in colleges across the country. Professors who are supposed to confine themselves to teaching, conduct research activities, profess new ideas, examine the existing framework of knowledge, execute the curriculum and programs, and most importantly, contribute to the academic expansion of the broader discipline are miserably compelled to confine their efforts and cognitive minds in furnishing databases and associated works for the sake of institutional accreditation processes by different institutions and frameworks like National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) and so on.

However, the chief purpose of this article is neither to oppose such initiatives as the accreditation process nor deriving an understanding of the quality status of the institution, nor to pose questions on the need of NAAC. Rather, the intention is to raise questions about the way the process is being implemented and engaging professors across the country in a job for which they have no special skills. In other words, it may be claimed that human resources are being misused or, to be more specific, disrupted in such a manner that harms the whole academic ecosystem.

Students have become the victims of this organized process. Instead of professing ideas, and generating new knowledge frameworks, professors across the country, it would not be an exaggeration to claim, have become ‘well-paid Group-A clerks’, typists, data entry personnel, or other forms of nonteaching officers. In other words, the bizarre use of human resources, more specifically the way this process compels professors to be engaged in non-academic and purely clerical works is an organized crime against the interests of the students and broader academia.

The importance of such evaluations and the accreditation process cannot be denied. Established in 1994, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an institution that assesses the academic, administrative, financial, and overall system of quality management for the holistic development of the academic ecosystem in higher education across the country. The basic objective obviously is noble, essentially significant, and the need of the hour in terms of ensuring the quality of academic as well as administrative services in higher education.

Through the setting up of benchmarks, seven criteria, SWOT (Strength-Weakness-OpportunityThreat) analysis, and qualitative as well as quantitative matrices the NAAC under the University Grants Commission (UGC) conducts a thorough accreditation process. But the entire process has been suffering from multiple loopholes regarding its methods of execution. The benchmarks, parameters, and matrices – all quite unscientifically have been determined universally for the degree colleges which it may be claimed lacks minimum essence of rationality as colleges across the country are not equal in terms of physical infrastructure, human resource, communicative convenience and sources of revenue.

Even the data verification and validation process is riddled with several loopholes that pose a serious threat to the sanctity and integrity of the whole process. The massive volume of clerical work, the rat race of documentation, and score-mongering cumulatively demand a strong and skilled human resource in the colleges and universities to successfully conduct the entire programme. But here comes the question of feasibility and execution. Due to a lack of desired human resources in such institutions, professors, instead of focusing on their core areas of research and teaching, are compelled to spend their time and energy on such grossly unproductive jugglery of preparing reports, collecting official data, documenting activities, preparing reports and so on.

This is entirely non-teaching work and should be done by a board or such specified bodies. What measures may be taken to stop this plunder of human resources without hampering the accreditation process under NAAC? The UGC, through the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, should establish an autonomous and dedicated organization or similar body consisting of professional, skilled, and experienced employees who may take charge of accomplishing the work in collaboration with the concerned college or university. Such an organization, with branches all over the country, may be the best recipe for this concern.

The institutional arrangement for such specified work may recruit staff in colleges and universities to accomplish works related to the accreditation process. Such institutional arrangement, it may be argued, is not only the solution to this crisis but also the probable recipe for stopping the rampant plunder of human resources in colleges and universities across the nation.

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