While universities often complain about financial crunch, a recently published University Grants Commission (UGC) status report has revealed that six out of 10 Telangana state universities have not spent the funds already at their disposal.
The UGC had allotted funds to state and central universities for development purposes such as construction and renovation of buildings, appointment of staff, purchase of books, journals and equipment for innovative research activities, health centre, creating student amenities, university-industry linkages etc. But, with only a year left for the 12th five-year plan period (2012-17) to end, the funds sanctioned by the UGC continue to lie underutilised, the report stated.
For instance, Osmania University, was allocated Rs 3,195 lakh under the general development assistance scheme. The UGC released Rs 1,917 lakh between 2012-13 and 2015-16 out of which, the university has failed to utilise Rs 639 lakh as of February 2016, according to the UGC report. Similarly, the Potti Sriramulu Telugu University managed to spend only 50% (Rs 211 lakh) of the total Rs 428 lakh released to it by the commission.
Worse, the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) and Kakatiya University had failed to submit their grant expenses report to the UGC. As a result, the two universities received no funds from the UGC for the last two years. Officials fear that with both the universities failing to report their expenditure, they may not receive funds even for this academic year.
"We are making every effort to spend the allocated funds by constructing new buildings and enhancing our infrastructure. Funds have also been given to departments to buy stationary, equipment etc. We will submit the expenditure report to the UGC once the entire developmental work concludes," said Girisham, coordinating officer of UGC affairs at KU. Incidentally, the UGC gives a one-year extension for ongoing infrastructural development and six month's extension for using the amount allocated for women's development. However, if the university fails to utilise the allotted grant, the amount automatically lapses and the university is compelled to pay a 10% interest on the unspent amount.
Academicians attribute this under-utilisation of grants to the absence of regular VCs in state universities. "The VCs have to regularly review the expenditures. For larger developments on campus, approvals from executive council, headed by the VC, is required. However, the T government's delay in appointing regular VCs is, in turn, delaying the process of taking decisions," said Battu Satyanarayana, president of T State Federation of University Teachers Association.