Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: With an aim to strengthen higher education system in Odisha, the State Higher Education Department today held a brainstorming session in Bhubaneswar with Principals of 52 government colleges.

During the crucial meeting, it was decided that all the lecturers in the government colleges will have extended working hours now beyond the UGC guidelines of 5 hours a day. Not only this, the colleges will record their attendance with the help of biometrics technology.

According to sources, an official notification in connection with the decision will also be published soon.
Briefing media on the agenda of the meeting, Higher Education Minister Arun Sahoo said the meeting discussed about the hurdles in development of the higher education system and ways to strengthen them. “The Principals shared their vision about the Higher Education system. Discipline in college campuses is our priority,” Sahoo added.

The meeting also discussed how a uniform syllabus can be introduced for all the government Plus III Colleges.

As per UGC guidelines, the college faculty members are bound to take minimum 25 classes every week and remain present for five hours a day in their respective colleges. However, the HE department today decided that post completion of these five hours, they will stay for another two hours and concentrate on bettering the research activities apart from working towards academic development.

The move has been initiated to impart quality education and most importantly, put a check on lecturers being callous and compromising with their duty hours.

The colleges will also work towards ensuring that students get maximum benefit through research activities and government schemes. This apart, the college heads will introspect whether the lecturers are staying for seven hours or not, while action will be taken against those not following the academic guidelines.

Responding to a query on media reports about overlapping of PG entrance dates of different universities in the State, the minister said, “Barring one or two universities, the PG entrance test of many universities is over. From next academic session, a coordination meeting will be held to fix the PG entrance dates to avoid overlapping.”

Even the students have alleged that the focus of lecturers is getting diverted due to fewer working hours allotted to them.

"Less attention is being given towards research work and other developmental activities. If the lecturers stay for eight hours, they will be more focused on what extra can be done for students," said a student of BJB Autonomous College.

Meanwhile, additional secretary of the Higher Education department, Partha Sarathi Mishra informed that out of the 52 government colleges, biometric system has already been installed at 16 institutions to keep a tab on attendance of faculty members.

“Our focus is to fill up vacancies at government colleges and so, the recruitment will be over within two months. This apart, infrastructure development at the colleges is another priority,” Mishra added.

This was the first meeting between the minister, department officials and college principals in the current academic session. Earlier this month, the government had conducted a meeting of Vice Chancellors of universities in the State.