The Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India and the University Grants Commission (UGC) held a day-long meeting with select Autonomous Colleges and State Government representatives on 7th October, 2013 at India International Centre, New Delhi to discuss their problems.
This was the first exclusive meeting of the Principals of Autonomous Colleges and State Government representatives with MHRD and the UGC, after the formulation of the scheme by the UGC a few decade ago. The Secretary, Higher Education shared with them the proposed initiatives for bringing about reforms in affiliation system which has become the bane of Higher Education system in the country.
He also informed them about the provisions of the recently approved Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), a scheme of MHRD wherein autonomous colleges desirous of converting themselves into universities can be provided with funding upto Rs.55 crores each. The total amount earmarked for XII FYP for this scheme is Rs.2475 crores.
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 Secretary felt that 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' NAAC accreditation (46 out of 441 colleges are ‘A' grade) the status of a Deemed University, State University or just give them degree granting powers by amending the UGC Act.
The colleges welcomed the efforts of the Department of Higher Education and UGC in taking up this initiative. Ban on recruitments 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 following was decided to be done in time-bound manner:
- The UGC Standing Advisory Committee on Autonomous Colleges under the Chair of Prof. Syed Hasnain will finalize its recommendations within two months including a draft Regulations for autonomous colleges.
- The central government will explore ways to confer degree granting powers on autonomous colleges by way of amending the UGC Act.
- It was decided that at least 10% of all eligible colleges in the country will be conferred with autonomy by end of XII Plan.
- The suggestions of colleges were taken into account to finalize programmatic norms under RUSA. It was decided that 45 autonomous colleges would be converted into Universities by end of XII Plan.
- The governance structure is the crux of the reforms in RUSA. Therefore all states and autonomous colleges were exhorted to undertake governance and academic reforms.