LU to revive distance learning courses to meet budget deficit

Lucknow, March 16 The Lucknow University (LU) plans to revive its distance learning courses almost after over two decades and will also offer full-time online degree courses.

The decision has been taken to meet a deficit of Rs 132.70 crore in its annual budget.

The finance committee approved the university’s annual budget for 2023-24 during a meeting held on Wednesday.

As per the budget approved by the committee, LU’s estimated revenue is Rs 223.32 crore, far short of the Rs 356.02 crore expenditure.

The main source of income in LU budget are self-financed courses, examination fees, government and other grants.

Self-financed courses, alone, help LU in pooling Rs 86 crore, while earnings from examinations, grants and others are estimated to be over Rs 50 crore and government grants bring in around Rs 50 crore.

In comparison, expenditure is pegged at Rs 356.02 crore, including a whopping Rs 239.36 crore being salary expenses, while the remaining expenditure of Rs 116.66 (32. 77 per cent) crore has been made for infrastructure construction and annual maintenance, payment of electricity bills, water tax, house tax, library, admission and examination operations, student facilities and other expenses.

An LU official said: “Our highest expenditure is mainly on the salaries of staff which is 67. 23 per cent alone of the total budget. The state government gives only Rs 48 crore to the university for paying salaries.”

e said that there is an issue with the grants received from the government.

“While on paper, we get Rs 48 crore for paying salaries, but the grant released by the government is Rs 38 crore only. We have raised this issue with the government several times, but it is yet to be addressed,” he said.

LU’s cash crunch started two decades ago when the state government froze salary grants at the 1998 level (Rs 16 crore). The increase in salary expenses in the following years was met by starting new self-financed courses and granting affiliation to self-financed colleges.

The government increased the grant to Rs 48 crore, but expenses increased by five times in two decades.

To resolve the crunch, the state government increased the university’s jurisdiction in the year 2020 by affiliating colleges in Hardoi, Rae Bareli, Sitapur, and Lakhimpur districts with LU taking the total number of affiliated colleges from 180 to 545.

LU Vice Chancellor Prof A.K. Rai said” “For the last three years we have been facing a deficit of around Rs 115 crore in our budget. We will try and reduce our expenses by adopting austerity measures and exploring more sources of revenues.”

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