Complete autonomy for top 20 institutes of excellence, says former UGC chairman

On issues of government interference, vice-chancellors in the audience raised questions such as the UGC’s micro-management of varsities to the tune of dictating nomenclature of courses

By: Express News Service | Pune | Published: April 9, 2017 3:38:57 am
Indian Universities conference, Symbiosis college, education in India, higher education in India, Ireland Higher Education Authority, NAAC, Symbiosis International University, indian express news Ved Prakash (left) with Professor Philip Altbach.

While most educational insitutions vying to be amongst the coveted 10 public and private universities, in the world-class university scheme by the Union government, are anxiously awaiting the criteria of selection, former chairperson of University Grants Commission, Ved Prakash, revealed it has recommended certain monetary criteria for the selection.

“The criteria for existing private universities is different and for greenfield institutions is different. In case of latter, we have proposed to the ministry that the net worth of the private trust or society of the institution should be at least Rs 5,000 crore with at least one member of the board of management should have assets of Rs 1,000 crore. There will be an expert committee by the UGC on recommendation of the Ministry of HRD and this would issue a letter of intent to the institutes of excellence deemed to be university. It will be a two stage process and then followed by the final approval,” he said.

Prakash assured that top 20 institutes of excellence would have complete autonomy.

The former head of UGC, who retired on April 4, was speaking at the pre-conference round table discussion on ‘Building World Class Universities’ organised at the Symbiosis International University (SIU), Lavale, where he was sharing the dias with two eminent international acclaimed experts in internationalisation of education, Professor Philip Altbatch, director of center for International Higher Education, USA, and professor Jamil Salmi, global tertiary education expert.

Just after Prakash elaborated on some of the criteria and process for selection of the top 20 universities in India, he was interrupted by Altbach, who commented, “I think that these guidelines and rules are aiming to make it impossible. It’s too complicated.”

With discussions centred around the idea of making Indian universities world-class, academicians who had gathered for the round table from across the world and various parts of the country, threw light on several hurdles faced by Indian universities, chief amongst them was lack of autonomy and stringent government control especially for public universities.

Professor Altbach jokingly said that with the Trump administration, the higher education industry in the USA might not be so welcoming to international students. He added other countries should take advantage of their ‘stupidity’. “India has a variety of significant challenges as it approaches the idea. And while one of it is funding and resources but issues like governance, not having political control, institutional autonomy and how academic culture is developed to support research focus is paramount,” he said.

Professor Salmi said that while building a world-class university is a gargantuan task but building it from scratch may be easier than transforming an existing one. “It’s a simple model – talent, resources and governance, they all have to go together. India has no dearth of talent and proof is in success of graduates and institutes like IITs and there are lot of wealthy individuals committed to education as well. Perhaps governance would be the biggest challenge,” he said.

On issues of government interference, vice-chancellors in the audience raised questions such as the UGC’s micro-management of varsities to the tune of dictating nomenclature of courses.

The inaugural function of the international conference on “The Changing Landscape of Internationalisation of Higher Education” conducted by the SIU and Association of Indian Universities would take place on Sunday with Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar as chief guest.

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