A day after HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar announced autonomy for 60 institutions, students and teachers from almost all colleges of Delhi University called it an “ill-conceived decision”. Holding protests in various colleges, students and teachers said the move was a step towards privatisation of public-funded institution. DU, though, is not in the list of institutions being given autonomy. DU teachers, however, have been on strike for the past few days against the changed funding policies of the government.
“Javadekar, while proudly describing these decisions as ‘historic’ and reminiscent of the 1991 liberalisation of Indian economy, claimed that the government is striving to introduce a liberalised regime in the education sector. The arguments implicit in this claim is that the education sector be best treated as a market for tradable services, and that less regulations and freedom from government funding will allow this market to flourish,” said Rajib Ray, president of the Federation of Central Universities’ Teachers’ Associations.
On the UGC’s list for autonomy are 52 universities, including five central universities such as JNU, AMU, BHU, 21 state universities, 24 deemed universities, and two private universities autonomy. There are also eight more colleges in the list.
JNU teachers also criticised this decision. In a statement, they said, “The so-called autonomy is an impunity being bestowed on authoritarian university administrations, like the current dispensation in JNU to flout all rules, norms and codes and exercise unchecked power in privatisating universities and undo the agenda of social justice.”
They also spoke out against the clause allowing institutions to start new programmes/departments/centres, allow opening of off-campus centres without approval from the UGC.