Recently, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has clarified that reserved faculty positions in universities for SC, ST, OBC, and EWS candidates would not be opened to the general category. This clarification comes in response to a controversy sparked by new draft guidelines on reservation implementation in higher education, released by the UGC for feedback last month.

What were the Draft Guidelines:

In the context of reserved faculty vacancies, it acknowledges a general ban on de-reservation during direct recruitment. However, it notes exceptions in which de-reservation may occur if a university can sufficiently justify the need. 

Direct recruitment refers to appointing teachers through public advertisements and application invitations.

The draft guidelines outline a procedure for de-reservation proposals:

  1. For Group A and Group B level jobs, proposals should be submitted to the Ministry of Education.
  2. Proposals for Group C and D level posts should be forwarded to the university’s Executive Council, the highest decision-making body, for special permission.

Government Reaction after Outcry:

  • Central Educational Institutions (CEI) adhere to the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act, 2019, ensuring reservation in all direct recruitment posts in the Teachers’ cadre. Following this enactment, no de-reservation of reserved posts is permitted. 
  • The Ministry of Education has issued directives to all CEIs to strictly comply with the provisions of the 2019 Act when filling vacancies.

Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act, 2019

Key Features include:

Categories Covered:

  • The Bill provides reservation for teaching positions for individuals belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, socially and educationally backward classes, and economically weaker sections.

Reservation of Posts:

  • The reservation applies to direct recruitment of teachers, allocating positions based on the total sanctioned strength of central educational institutions. Each institution is considered as one unit, ensuring fairness in allocation across departments.

Coverage and Exceptions:

  • Applicable to ‘central educational institutions,’ including Parliament-established universities, deemed universities, institutions of national importance, and those receiving central government aid.
  • Exclusions: Certain institutions of excellence, research institutions, and those of national and strategic importance are specified in the Bill’s Schedule. Minority education institutions are also exempted.

Current Policy:

  • The chapter sparked outcry as it was perceived to pave the way for de-reservation in faculty positions, a departure from the existing practice. Currently, reserved faculty positions are not converted for the recruitment of general candidates in higher education institutions. 
  • While the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) permits de-reservation in exceptional circumstances for Group A posts under the central government, this practice has not been implemented in academic institutions.
  • Even in official responses to parliamentary questions, the Ministry of Education maintains a stance against de-reservation, stating a ban on the de-reservation of reserved vacancies for SC, ST, and OBC in direct recruitment. The draft UGC guidelines were viewed as potentially challenging this status quo, leading to widespread concern and opposition.

Benefits of Reservation:

  • Aid in direct recruitment of teachers to address an estimated 3 lakh vacancies in Government (Central and State) Educational institutions.
  • Ensures compliance with the Constitutional Provisions of Articles 14, 16, and 21
  • Ensures inclusive representation of the Scheduled Castes (SC), the Scheduled Tribes (ST), the socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC), and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in direct recruitment for teachers’ cadres.
  • Improvement in teaching standards by attracting eligible and talented candidates from SCs, STs, SEBCs, and EWS talent pool.
ArticleConstitutional Provisions Related to Reservation in Jobs
Article 15(4) and 16(4)Enables reservation of seats in government services for SC and ST members.
Article 15(6)Introduced by the 103rd Constitutional Amendment, providing 10% reservations to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in jobs and educational institutions.
Article 16(6)      Introduced by the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act to provide reservation to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in public employment, adding a new clause to Article 16.
77th Amendment, 1995Clause (4A) was introduced in Article 16, allowing promotion in reservations.
81st Amendment, 2000Inserted Article 16(4B), allowing the filling of unfilled reserved vacancies in the succeeding year.
85th Amendment, 2001Modified clause (4A) to provide consequential seniority for SC and ST candidates. 


  • Ensuring effective and uniform implementation of the recruitment process across diverse educational institutions.
  • Overcoming challenges in achieving fair representation for marginalised communities, as there can be other systemic barriers in the recruitment process.
  • Balancing the goal of inclusive recruitment with maintaining high-quality teaching standards to ensure the overall effectiveness of the education system.
  • It can be perceived as reverse discrimination against unreserved categories instead of an enabling provision.

Way Forward:

  • Acknowledge and address systemic barriers marginalised communities face through tailored support and adjustments in the recruitment process.
  • Include members from marginalised communities and with varied expertise in the selection process to ensure diverse perspectives and mitigate bias.
  • Communicate the goals and benefits of inclusive recruitment practices, emphasising that they enhance, rather than compromise, meritocratic principles.

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