The new guidelines for women studies centre released on 12 March by the University Grants Commission has been a reason of much concern to both students and teachers across universities. It has reduced the funds for Women studies' centres by 40%. Currently, the established centres are divided into different phase I, II, and advanced centres, with salary budgets ranging from Rs 40 lakhs to Rs 60 lakhs. The new rule issued stated that the budget will be now fixed at Rs 35 lakhs for each centre and Rs 25 lakhs for each college. There is no mention of the different phases. However, in the Public Notice issued, UGC also mentioned that these guidelines may be treated as 'Draft Guidelines' and that they are inviting feedback from the stakeholders till 5 April.
Pic 1- Front page of the #guidelines by UGC on women's studies centres— Anoo Bhuyan (@AnooBhu) March 20, 2019
Pic 2- Public notice where UGC renames the #guidelines to #draftGuidelines. Comments invited till 5 April :)
Earlier, under this scheme:
- phase I centres received Rs 47.5 lakhs per annum.
- phase II centres received Rs 64 lakhs per annum.
- the advanced centres receive Rs 75 lakhs per annum.
Reacting to the news, Mini Sukumar, head of the women’s studies department at the University of Calicut told the Wire, "Many women’s studies centres around the country were started because the UGC gave funding for the faculty and researchers. The UGC was supposed to keep funding the centres but the present guidelines are silent on this. Many faculty members who are dependent on the UGC for salaries can be affected.”
- This will lead to the non-payment of staff who are already working in various colleges and universities.
- Scholars who are currently pursuing women’s studies will not be able to compete for teaching and research positions that were previously being funded by the UGC.
- It will cause disruption of teaching and research functions across the centres in universities. Scholars will also be affected and left without teachers and guides, midway in their courses and research activities.
Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS) president Meera Velayudhan said that of late there has been no communication between IAWS members and UGC before any major decision.
“There are about 200 centres in the country in universities and colleges. Why are they targeting women studies centres, which are doing a wonderful job on raising issues which are important to women in society, especially in this time and age?” -Meera Velayudhan to Mediaindia
The previous guidelines spoke in detail about teaching and training in women’s studies centres, in addition to BA, MA, MPhil and PhD qualifications. The new guidelines do not focus on teaching and research.
The members of the Indian Association of Women’s Studies (IAWS) have decided to approach the UGC and submit a memorandum with signatures from all the WSCs across the country.
Indrani Mazumdar, ex officio member of the IAWS told NewsClick that the IAWS now plans to submit a more detailed memorandum to the UGC on the requirements of the WS Centres in the country. The memorandum will seek to reconsider and revise the new guidelines to ensure that the university level WSCs, their teachers and staff are able to continue and expand their teaching and research activities.
Sonakshi Goel is an intern with SheThePeople.TV