Over the past three financial years, the Jawahar Lal University (JNU) experienced a decrease in the expenditure on academic activities. This substantial decrease in JNU research spending has severely affected the subscription to journal and publications, the sponsorship of fellowships, organizing seminars and workshops, and conducting research activities.
The top decision body of the University, Executive Council (EC) members put forward this matter. The issue got light when the annual financial report for 2019-20 was presented before the Executive Council on Monday.
It’s evident from the financial reports that the academic expenses are decreasing every year. In 2017-18 it decreased from Rs 38.36 crore to Rs 28.24 crore in 2018-19 which is a reduction of 26.38 %. Then it further lowered by 30% and in 2019-20, the spending is fixed at Rs 19.74 crore. To define academic expenses, it includes components like expenditure on seminars and workshops, teaching aids, journals and publications, and also research activities.
The University website contains the financial reports of 2017-18 and 2018-19. The 2019-20 report was listed as an agenda item in the EC meeting.
The point to be noted is that the university increased its expenditure on legal and security matters. In 2017-18 the legal expenses were Rs 2.72 lakh and it increased to Rs 17.7 lakh in 2018-19. The Executive Council meeting held on September 7th, Rs 30 lakh was approved as an additional fund for the legal expenses. The fund already allotted for this year was Rs 9 lakh. It’s opposite the JNU research fund which has decreased.
Another sector that observed an increase in expenditure is Security. From Rs 17.37 crore in 2017-18, the expenses increased to Rs 18.54 crore in 2018-19. The security budget for the year 2019-20 is allotted to Rs 15.34 crore. The hustle in the JNU campus has been increasing since the past few years. Count the flashpoints like in 2016 the protest against the hanging of the 2001 Parliament attack accused named Afzal Guru. The most recent being the protest against a new fee structure in 2019.
The reduction in the academic expenses including JNU research funds is questioned consistently the members. The organizing of seminars and workshops is the major concern of the centers. A cut in these funds is not letting them invite speakers. The expenses incurred on the seminars and workshops has decreased from Rs 1.48 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 45 lakh in 2019-20.
The Vice-Chancellor hasn’t spoken on the issue till now. There was a decrease in the money spend on journals and publications from Rs 4.18 crore in 2017-18 too Rs 2.76 crore in 2018-19. It’s a decrease of 33.8%. A similar trend is seen in research activities. It includes research projects, teachers’ trips to national seminars, or international ones. It has reduced to 1,72,853 in 2018-19 and showed a slight increase to Rs 2,39,114 in 2019-20.
There was a decrease of 84% in the student fellowships/ stipends. There are various stipends provided by the university like UGC – net fellowships/stipends and sponsored fellowships in JNU said, Ramesh Pramod Kumar.
There is a delay in payment for these fellowships. Aishe Ghosh, President of JNUSU said that they have been raising their voice against the decrease in funds. She mentioned the plight of students as they haven’t received their fellowship amount. Moreover, the University denied charges that the library funds were reduced by Rs 6 crore.
Surajit Mazumdar, the secretary of JNUTA expressed his concern by saying that it has disruptive impacts on academic activities as the expenditure on lab material, journals, fieldwork, conferences, etc. is cut down immensely. He proposed that the security sector where the funds are going has not made the campus any safer.
A contradicting point is raised by the JNU registrar Pramod Kumar. He said that there is no negative effect of a decrease in research funds on the performance of the University. He said that the faculty is constantly been encouraged to hold seminars and workshops. They are also told to get financers for their research activities. He added that after March they haven’t conducted any seminar due to the adverse impact of Covid-19.
An associate professor said that how can the lockdown affect the annual account of 2019-20. It is because the university abides by the April to March financial year.
To justify the increase in legal and security expenses, the registrar said that more and more cases are filed by the students and teachers against the faculty.
Moreover, the increase in cases of violence on campus has increased in the past few years. The security cost includes the hiring of guards and also installing CCTV cameras and video recorders. The cost has increased to maintain the safety of the students and faculty living in the campus, a senior official said.