In DU’s promotion push for teachers, some questions

Differing directions have been issued by Delhi University and the University Grants Commissions to colleges and departments over which publications can be considered for teacher promotions in the university, with DU allowing the use of a broader base of publications.

Teacher promotion has been a long-standing issue in DU, having been stalled for over a decade. However, after PC Joshi took over as Acting V-C last October after the suspension of Yogesh Tyagi, there has been a push to clear promotions in the university departments and constituent colleges. In a 12-month report released last month by the university, it stated that it commenced promotions on “a war footing” and that promotions of 542 teachers were completed across departments and 4,569 promotions completed across 68 colleges till June 2021.

It has been learnt that the principal of a top DU college wrote to the UGC last month stating that some teachers are submitting publications towards their promotion which are not in the UGC-CARE list of journals and have been published after June 14, 2019, when the UGC issued a public notice allowing only the use of journals in this list for academic purposes. The principal sought clarity on whether these papers, published only in peer-reviewed journals, can be considered towards their promotions.

In response, the UGC had written on July 5 and pointed to a public notice from it dated September 16 2019 which states, “…the Old ‘UGC approved list of Journals’ has been replaced with the new ‘UGC CARE List of Quality Journals’ (UGC-CARE List) and with effect from 14th June, 2019 research publication only from the journals enclosed in UGC-CARE list should be considered prospectively for any academic purpose’.”

However, the University’s directions have been contradictory and its communication to colleges has been to point to UGC Regulations 2018 and to state that publications can be either UGC listed or peer reviewed.

“I’m not aware of any concerns regarding this. We are promoting teachers strictly based on UGC regulations. The UGC has issued several clarifications regarding the importance of publications in UGC-CARE journals and peer-reviewed journals as well, and we are giving weightage to both,” said registrar Vikas Gupta.

After 88% of the journals in the old UGC list had been found to be “predatory”, a list of around 800 verified journals was identified by a Consortium for Academic and Research Ethics in 2019 to counter “compromised publication ethics and deteriorating academic integrity”.

“What is clear is that actions are being taken in haste. It is crucial that promotions take place but there needs to be some scrutiny… Academic contribution of the individual has to be looked at, which is missing right now. In my opinion, there should be subject-wise committees comprising the head of department, senior teachers, and two professors in the subject from other central universities to scrutinise applications and documents,” said former DU Teachers’ Association president Shri Ram Oberoi.

However, the fast tracking of promotions has been a matter of great relief for teachers, many of whom have been waiting for promotions for over 10 years.

“The UGC-CARE list is like licence permit raj, trying to regulate and restrict academic work while the rest of the world is opening up… But here the question is that procedure is being followed and we are talking about promotions, which is happening on a large scale simply because of how long it has been pending. People have lost years and years… and have been failed by the system and the rule was suddenly changed through a public notice. To compensate for the losses, in fact, there should be a time-bound one-time clearing of all pending promotions,” said Rajesh Jha, who teaches at Rajdhani College and has been promoted this year. His last promotion was in 2007.

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