New Delhi: At least 10 of the 41 central universities under the direct supervision of the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry are headless.

Shillong’s North Eastern Hill University has had no full-time vice-chancellor since June 2013, according to ministry data. Five other central universities—Central University of Odisha, Central University of Rajasthan, Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya in Chhattisgarh, Central University of Kashmir and Central University of Jharkhand—have been headless since 1 March 2014.

Similarly, Central University of Tamil Nadu and Central University of Bihar, too, are functioning without permanent vice-chancellors since 2 March 2014. The University of Allahabad and Hyderabad University have not had heads since 28 July 2014 and 28 January 2015, respectively.

Without a full-time vice-chancellor, a university cannot take decisions on appointing permanent teachers, improving infrastructure and revamping curricula, said a government official, who declined to be named. Central universities are also facing a 15-45% teaching staff shortage.

No new vice-chancellors could be identified in the Narendra Modi-led government’s first few months as some search-cum-selection committees (SSC) set up by the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had been scrapped by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government, the official said.

HRD minister Smriti Irani on Monday admitted in the Rajya Sabha that one of the reasons for the delay in appointing vice-chancellors was the “scrapping of some SSCs due to some deficiencies". The process of reconstituting an SSC and finding convenient dates for its members to meet and create a list of candidates is time consuming, she said.

In the absence of permanent vice-chancellors, the senior-most professors or pro-vice-chancellors have been made in-charge vice-chancellors in such central universities, the ministry said.

A Delhi University professor, who requested that he not be named, said it was pointless to select SSC members who could not spare time to interview and select vice-chancellors. “The issue is, there is too much interference in university matters by the ministry. But when it comes to selecting VCs, it’s quite slow," the professor said.

An HRD ministry official said the process of selection of vice-chancellor is taking time and that the ministry is of the view that, going forward, they would start the process of selection ahead of the retirement of the incumbent.

The official said the ministry is doing its work in a fair manner and carrying out due diligence, even if it takes a little extra time. In the last three months, the ministry has appointed vice-chancellors to five central universities—in Jammu, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.