TU’s uncertainty, deteriorating quality

Published On: August 6, 2023 06:17 PM NPT By: Ruby Rauniyar

KATHMANDU, Aug 6: With the appointment of Prof Dr Dharmakant Baskota as the Vice-Chancellor, at Tribhuvan University (TU), the fraternal organizations of various political parties and professors' organizations have launched strikes with various demands. Lately, Tribhuvan University Victims' Struggle Committee (TUVSC) has imposed a padlock. During Baskota's four-year tenure, the university has been padlocked for 341 days.  

The professor says that most of the time of the officials who are supposed to move towards academic advancement in the university is spent in talks and discussions with the protestors. Moreover, since the officials are appointed on the basis of party quota in the university, they tend to be busy with party interests rather than academic reforms. Due to the same situation, educational and academic upgradation work could not be done in the university even during Baskota's tenure.  

Baskota, who was appointed the Vice-Chancellor on November 2, 2019, has about three months left for his four-year tenure. During this period, various organizations have locked various bodies and departments including the Central Office of the University for 341 days. 

Lately, TUVSC, Kirtipur has padlocked the Office of the Registrar and Principal since June 22 demanding that Kirtipur residents be employed in various bodies of the University, a hospital with 300 beds be built as agreed upon by the University, the children of Kirtipur residents should be given priority in the scholarships available in various departments, organizations and individuals who have illegally usurped the land of the University should be immediately removed from there. Officials have said that the academic, administrative and financial activities of the university have been affected due to the padlock imposed by TUVSC.  

Vice-Chancellor Baskota said at the meeting of the Education Committee of the House of Representatives on Friday that due to the padlock in the university, there was no working environment and he could not do what he could have. He shared that the work was affected because the University was padlocked from June 22 in the name of TUVSC.

“It's not that I don't have a clear vision, but there is no working environment due to the lockdown and agitation in TU. I sought to improve the university. I installed a biometric attendance machine to discourage the distortion of receiving salary without teaching the students. But that machine was carried away by the teachers,” he told the committee, “I even complained to the police, but they did not take any action. Despite the padlock, we have done things including passing the budget, policies and programs and grace list of the University. It is difficult to run a university because of party divisions.” He also said that when the offices of the officials of the University were locked, they were helpless.

Three months after he was appointed as the vice-chancellor, the Nepal Student Union imposed a padlock in February 2020 with various demands. Then in April 2020, officials were locked out for one and a half months to prevent them from entering the office. 

The Vice Chancellor's chair was vandalized on June 26, 2020 and August 11 of the same year. In August, there was a three-month padlocking at the Department of Sociology. On October 20, students belonging to the Nepal Student Union attacked the assistant professor of the Central Department of Sociology, Prem Chalaune. On January 18, 2022, the Nepal Student Union itself padlocked the Vice Chancellor's office with various demands, which was prolonged for five months. From June to August 2022, the Nepal Student Union locked down the offices of the Tribhuwan University Service Commission, Vice Chancellor, Registrar, office of the Rector. In that process, the students also took control of the files of the Executive Council of the University.  

According to  Principal Prof Dr Dhyanendra Bahadur Rai, on June 23, the Principal's Office was preparing to publish the results of the canteen and book shops tender of the university. A day before that, on the 22nd, the publication of the results of the tender was also affected due to the padlock imposed in the name of TUVSC. "Recently, there has been an increase in the distortion of padlocking in the name of various organizations under various pretexts in the university. It is not a good idea to choose a bad culture like padlocking when you have to find other ways to meet the demand,” Principal Rai said, “The academic, administrative and financial work of the university has come to a standstill due to the padlock. In such a situation, it is not easy for TU to take positive momentum.”

The part-time professors have also been striking the central office, service commission and campuses of the university from time to time, demanding equal pay for equal work.  

The TU Service Commission has also been without a chairman for a year due to the system's failure. Kedar Prasad Dhakal, head of administration of the commission, said that all the processes, including advertisement calls for new appointments and promotions in the university, have come to a standstill due to the absence of the chairman. Since the service commission has been without a chairman for a year, new entry of skilled and qualified teachers and staff has been stopped in the university. He said, “Currently, almost 50 percent of the 8,000 teachers and 7,000 staff positions in the University are vacant. On the one hand, we say that the youth workforce has gone abroad, on the other hand, the way for the youth to enter employment has been blocked.”

Dr Gopi Chandra Kafle, associate professor, said that the University has become dead because the chairman has not been appointed to the service commission for a year. A professor at Central Department of Physics, TU, he is also the president of the professors union affiliated to the Nepali Congress. The Chancellor i.e Prime Minister and Vice-Chancellor i.e Education Minister of Tribhuvan University did not understand the importance of the Service Commission. The government is indulging in political partisanship that ignores educational upgradation,” Associate Professor Kafle said, “It has been a year since the commission has not opened a new advertisement. This has closed the way for qualified teachers to enter the university. The university is entangled in political partisanship. Efforts are still being made to make the appointment in partition.”

Dev Chandra Maharjan, the coordinator of TUVSC, said that the 300-ropani land given to the university by the residents of Kirtipur for conducting educational activities has been used for commercial purposes by the officials. “The officials have used the land that we gave to the university for educational purposes for commercial purposes. Professors have become businessmen. This is not acceptable to us Kirtipur residents. The land given to different organizations and individuals for unauthorized use should be brought back immediately by TU,” said coordinator Maharjan. He further added, “In the year 2015, the agreement made by the then Vice-Chancellor to employ Kirtipur residents in the institutions of the University, to provide scholarships to the children of Kirtipur residents studying in the University, and to build a 300-bed hospital in Kirtipur should be followed. If our demand is not addressed, the indefinite padlocking will continue.”

Professors say that non-academic work is more than academic when politics dominates the country's universities. Experts argue that the educational level of the university is declining when officials are appointed for political reasons. Educationist Prof Dr Bidya Nath Koirala pointed out that the university is getting stuck in a political quagmire because officials who are appointed on the basis of party beliefs are unable to move forward by creating a system. He commented that the destruction of academic dignity in universities is increasing after the establishment of democracy. “After the 1990 movement, a multi-party system was established in the country. During the multi-party period, the system of the king being the chancellor was still there. There was a party issue in the appointment of office-bearers but there was no dispute,” said educationist Koirala. But after the agitation of 2006, the teachers and staff of the university were divided according to party lines. It brought down the academic culture and academic dignity in the university.” He said that the quality of university should be increased by attracting new manpower. He said, “TU should announce vacancies through the service commission every six months and recruit the qualified and competent.”


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