The KJ Somaiya College of Arts & Commerce has approached a new chapter in its history. The oldest among all institutes/colleges of the Somaiya Group,it has been granted autonomy by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
The college will now have the freedom to set its own curriculum,design its own courses and have its own evaluation process.
There are also plans to allow dual degree programmes in future. However,the autonomy is academic and not financial.
This academic independence will enable us to enrich the coursework and broaden our curriculum. The autonomy will facilitate inter-disciplinary and cross campus programmes,exchanges and credit transfer. For example,it will allow students to take up courses with our partner institutes in India and abroad and get credits for it, said Samir Somaiya,vice president,Somaiya Trust.
The Somaiya Group has also applied for autonomy for four of its other institutes: Its science and commerce college,engineering college,management institute and SK Somaiya College of Arts,Science & Commerce.
We have got autonomy for one institute and we are hopeful of the others too. We have all the disciplines on our campus and want our students to take advantage of the diverse programmes we offer. Our students should have the freedom to pursue science and literature or management and Sanskrit together, he said.
The Somaiya Group has 34 institutes in all and the KJ Somaiya College of Arts & Commerce,affiliated to Mumbai University,is located on its Vidyavihar campus. The autonomy will come into effect from the 2012-13 academic year.
As per rules,the autonomous status will be valid till 2017-2018 and thereafter,the college has to apply for renewal of autonomy.
Academic freedom requires changes in the mindset and there will be a natural progression. We can now take the Somaiya philosophy of education to higher levels, said Somaiya.
In recent times (2010-11 academic year),among colleges affiliated to Mumbai University,St Xaviers College and Sardar Patel College of Engineering had got autonomy. The Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) had got autonomy in 2004-05. Though HR College was granted autonomy in 2007,it did not implement it.
Sources said the reason was a particular section in the Maharashtra Universities Act,1994,which says the number of representatives from the college management in the governing body of an autonomous college will be in minority.
This clause,say academicians,is a major reason why colleges in the state have shied away from autonomy.