The state Higher Education Department is preparing a list of colleges that have got A+ according to the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), which makes an institution eligible for autonomy, in an attempt to encourage the colleges to become autonomous.
Once the list is finalised, the department will conduct “counselling” sessions for the colleges. Although autonomy is granted to colleges, they remain affiliated to the parent universities and charge fees from students according to the prescribed rules.
The institutions, however, get academic freedom. Once academic autonomy is obtained, colleges are allowed to make changes and frame their own syllabus, set their own question papers and decide on the method of evaluation.
A few weeks ago, a workshop had been conducted at Shivaji Nagar’s Modern college by the higher education department to motivate colleges to take up the autonomous status but institutions had expressed reservations.
While the state government has taken it up as a policy to grant autonomy to eligible colleges, the institutions are not keen on getting the tag. It is because of this reluctance that there are less than 50 autonomous colleges across the state. Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) currently has 600 colleges affiliated to it.
Dr Mohan Khatal, the joint director of the higher education department, said the state government is encouraging eligible colleges but the institutions are delaying the process. “That is why a list is being prepared featuring eligible colleges so that we can counsel those institutions through a committee,” he said.
Asked about the reason why colleges are not keen on autonomy, the principal of a city college said: “Actually, the benefit to colleges is not clear in those cases, as they are still bound by the rules of the university and have to follow the same fee structure and many other things.”
He added: “Besides, there is a fear that in the name of autonomy, the state government will gradually withdraw the aid that is given to the colleges. Also, colleges are worried that their staff will remain the same but the workload will increase as the syllabus and exam-related work will happen at the college level if an institution gets autonomy. Since the fees cannot be increased, new staff members cannot come in.”