Source: Times of India via India News Watch/October 8, 2013
New Delhi: In order to strengthen 441 autonomous colleges across the country and take the load off universities, the HRD ministry has decided to allow them power to grant degrees. However, it would require an amendment in the UGC Act.
By the end of the 12th Plan, 45 of these 441 colleges would be converted into universities and allowed to give their own degrees. This decision was taken at a meeting of select autonomous colleges with HRD and UGC officials on Monday. This was the first meeting of principals of autonomous colleges in more than a decade after regulations came into place.
It was felt that in order to bolster research and innovation, universities should have less number of colleges affiliated to them. “Some of the universities have more than 800 colleges affiliated to them with the result that their entire time is consumed by routine administrative tasks leaving little time for research and innovation. On the other hand, many of these colleges though imparting high level of education having potential for research are not allowed to grow as they are not allowed to work beyond the limits prescribed by the University system,” the ministry said in a statement.
Education secretary Ashok Thakur felt the system of autonomous colleges could provide a way out of this limiting role of affiliation system. This could be done by upgrading the autonomous colleges with ‘A’ National Assessment and Accreditation Council accreditation (46 out of 441 colleges are ‘A’ grade) the status of a Deemed University, State University or just give them powers to grant degrees by amending the UGC Act.
The meeting decided to take various decisions in a time- bound manner. The UGC Standing Advisory Committee on Autonomous Colleges under Syed Hasnain of IIT- Delhi and a UGC member will finalize its recommendations within two months, including draft regulations for autonomous colleges. It was decided that at least 10% of all eligible colleges in the country will be conferred with autonomy by end of XII Plan. Autonomous colleges were also told that under the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), autonomous colleges desirous of converting themselves into universities can be provided with funding up to Rs 55 crore each. In the 12th Plan, Rs 2,475 crore has been earmarked for this scheme.
Some of the colleges among the 45 autonomous colleges selected are Loyola Colleges in Vijaywada, Secunderabad and Chennai; St Xavier’s Colleges in Kolkata, and the Government Model Science College in Jabalpur; among others. The complete list can be shared on request.
The colleges welcomed the efforts of the Department of Higher Education and UGC in taking up this initiative. A ban on recruitment to teaching positions by some State Governments and overlooking of their Autonomous Status by the affiliating Universities were some of the concerns expressed by the Colleges in becoming truly autonomous institutions. The autonomy in colleges will allow them to be flexible and collaborate proactively in the areas of research & innovation with international players