Dr. K. Balaveera Reddy, Former Vice Chancellor of Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belagavi (VTU) has issued this statement –
Reference is made to the recent news items appeared in leading news papers regarding functioning of Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belagavi. Being a concerned Former Vice Chancellor of VTU, It gives me great pain to read such news items which tarnishes the image of VTU and let me share my inputs/opinions on this subject.
The state of Karnataka is pioneer in providing Technical Education since more than six decades. Many of the successful educational institutions are run by the Government, Universities, and other private educational trusts and the Government of Karnataka has encouraged initiative from private sector in establishing professional training institutions. It is important to note that many of the VTU affiliated colleges are accredited by NAAC, NBA and figure in the top 100 of National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking of MHRD, New Delhi. This reflects the quality of technical education in the state of Karnataka. Bangalore houses large number of prominent National level institutions due to which Bangalore has a title of “Science and Technology Capital of India”. Rapid development in IT and other allied industries here has resulted in Bangalore being named as “Silicon Valley of India”. The McKinsey NASSCOM report indicates that all crucial ingredients, for example Idea generation, Anchor companies, Research centers and best technical institutions are present in Karnataka, mostly concentrated around Bangalore. The state of Karnataka has pre-eminent position in the IT sector not only in India, but also in the World map. In fact Bangalore is rated as one of the top “Ten Tech-Cities” in the World.
VTU name has been in the news in the recent past few years for all wrong reasons. Let me illustrate few of the major wrong doings which resulted in the messy state of affairs.
Finances:- During the period of 2010 to 2016 huge amount of money was spent (about Rs.500 crores) towards construction of buildings and procurement of unnecessary furniture, digital scanning & evaluation scheme, equipment etc. in various regional centers of VTU. This large expenses were done without proper planning and due diligence. For example, in Regional centre at Muddnehalli, a few hundred crores have been spent, for the construction of the buildings & procurement of furniture but unfortunately over past two years, 3/4th of the campus buildings are not being utilized, most of the class rooms are being used for dumping/storing about 650 five seater & 750 two seater desks and about 100 five seater sofa sets. Even many buildings started during the above period are incomplete in Mysore and Belgaum Regional centers. What a colossal wasteful expenditure? One side VTU is struggling for Finances and on the other side unnecessary infrastructure has been built by spending large sums of money without application of mind by the then authorities of the VTU.
Taking Over the Institutions:-
The University Officers & Bodies have taken a decision to take over the administration of UBDTCE as a constituent college of VTU, which was earlier a constituent college of Kuvempu university. This resulted in unwanted expenditure of about Rs.150 crores for the buildings, salaries and equipment. Tens of crores of money were spent on procuring equipment but the irony is that even on this day the equipment boxes are dumped in store rooms and yet to be opened for usage. What a careless decision making in taking over college and equipment procurement without a proper need?
Appointment of Faculty without proper justification:-
Faculty members have been appointed for the M.Tech courses for which Government sanction and Executive Council approval were not obtained. Example: One M.Tech course at Mysuru regional campus and one M.Tech course P.G.Studies Bangalore. This has resulted in wasteful expenditure in the form salaries and other expenses.
In Muddenahalli campus, four M.Tech programmes are being run where students strength for both the years is 77 and the faculty strength 16. The faculty vs student ratio of 1:5. In two programmes this year, the student strength is 1 and 4 numbers. Why should such outdated M.Tech programmes be run at all? Similarly in MBA for two years the total number of admitted students are 68 against the approved total of 120, faculty number is 16, the faculty vs students ratio is 1:4; similarly in MCA programme for three years the total students strength is 78 and faculty are 12 so the faculty vs students ratio is 1: 6.5. These courses are white elephant on the university exchequer.
Overall faculty and staff have definitely not been appointed with logic, rationale and proper approvals in place. This is direct dereliction of duty and responsibility on the part of University Bodies and Officers.
Digital Evaluation System (DES)
Introducing the DES without feasibility study
Starting DES without necessary technical support and infrastructure
Misguiding the stakeholders and the public about the cost of savings etc.
Tampering of answer scripts and handing over the answer scripts to third party
Introducing DES without evaluating financial implications
Spending large amount of money towards Digital Evaluation System, which is much more than the examination fee collected from the students. This is a direct loss making setup on continuous basis.
Apart from the above, there are many instances of financial irregularities as mentioned in Honourable Justice Keshava Narayan one man Commission appointed by His Excellency the Chancellor of University.
Action steps proposed for moving forward:
As of now VTU has a great opportunity to revive its functioning and bring back the past glory by initiating the following productive measures.
Judicious Expenditure of Funds and Financial Planning
VTU collects various fees from its affiliated institutions every year i.e. Affiliation, Registration, Attestation & Transcripts, Change of branch, e-learning, examination, eligibility, re-evaluation and others etc.
The income from all sources for the financial year ending 31-03-2014 is Rs. 312 Crores (which includes interest on corpus fund deposit of about Rs.60 Crores). Out of which, the examination fee alone is Rs. 80 Crores; Registration & Tuition fee is 125 Crores; Re-evaluation fee is Rs.26 Crores.
Let us look at the major expenses of the University, Digital scanning is Rs. 12 Crores, Practical examinations is Rs. 9 Crores, Printing Rs. 8 Crores, Remuneration to Examiners Rs. 16 Crores, Salaries Rs. 26 Crores. These major expenses add up to Rs. 71 Crores. Out of Rs. 312 crores, only Rs.71 Crores is spent on operational expenses, rest of the money goes for development, construction and other maintenance works.
This needs deep reflection; where is that big hole which is sucking all VTU funds? Logically University income is sufficient to meet the operational expenses. Where is the catch? Where was the large amount of money spent? VTU Vice Chancellor also agrees that VTU has enough funds to sustain (which was expressed by the present VC in the Press meet dated 02 June 17).
As of now, estimated VTU annual income for the university is about Rs. 250 to 275 crores. Salaries per month is Rs. 6 Crores i.e. 72 Crores per year. There is enough money available for smooth running of VTU.
Examination:- Expenditure on examination and evaluation can be reduced significantly by using technology. It is better to use simultaneously manual evaluation as well as usage of software. Once the usage of software is validated and proven successfully the software can be standardized and accepted.
Construction of buildings:- As many buildings were constructed in the past years, there may not be need for any new construction of buildings in the next 10 years. However, around 15 to 25 crore can be earmarked for completing the pending civil works.
Unviable P.G. Programmes:- There is no demand for many P.G. programmes, which is draining the VTU finances. The unviable courses may be discontinued, the faculty may be redeployed.
Timely Conduct of Examinations & Results:- As per VTU Act, conduct of timely examination and results declaration is one of the main functions. This must be given top priority as it deals with students’ academic progress and career prospects. This alone instills the credibility of the University.
I strongly feel and hope that the Government, VTU Officers and Bodies can reorient themselves towards higher standards of University functioning. I have no doubt in my mind, that VTU will raise like a Phoenix and establish itself as one of the finest universities of India and bring back its past glory.