The University Grants Commission (UGC), in an unprecedented move, on Tuesday granted autonomy to 60 higher education institutions, giving them different degrees of freedom in academic and administrative decision-making.
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Hyderabad Central University, Jadavpur University, Panjab University, Homi Bhabha National Institute and Narsee Monjee Institute of Studies in Mumbai, Symbiosis International in Pune and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) are among the 60 autonomous institutions.
The above approvals were given under UGC’s new regulation on ‘Categorization of Universities for Grant of Graded Autonomy’, which aims to provide greater autonomy to institutions under three categories, based on their NAAC accreditation score.
“The graded autonomy gives institutions the freedom to start new courses, new departments, off-campus centres, research parks, appoint foreign faculty, admit foreign students, pay variable incentive packages to their teachers and enter into academic collaboration with top 500 universities of the world without seeking UGC’s permission,” HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters on Tuesday.
Universities and institutions accredited by NAAC with a score of at least 3.5 or ranked in the top 50 institutions of National Institutions Ranking Framework (NIRF) for two consecutive years were given autonomy under ‘Category I’.
Institutions like JNU, HCU, NALSAR, Osmania University, Jadavpur University, Jammu University, TISS and National Law University, Delhi, among others, were parked in this category and they now are free to start a new course, department and school without UGC approval. They will also be exempt from UGC’s regular inspections and can collaborate with foreign educational institutions without the regulator’s permission. Their performance will be reviewed based on self-reporting.
BHU, AMU, English and Foreign Languages University, Madras University, Mysore University, TERI School of Advanced Studies in Delhi, Manipal Academy of Higher Education and O P Jindal Global University, among others, were given autonomy under ‘Category II’ for either getting NAAC score between 3.01 and 3.49 or finding a place between 51 and 100 in the NIRF ranking.
Although Category II institutions will also be exempt from UGC’s regular inspections, they will be subject to stricter control in comparison to ‘Category I’ institutions. So, ‘Category II’ universities will need UGC permission to sign MoUs with foreign universities. Their performance will be reviewed by a peer group.
“While the government has taken steps to liberalise higher education, the UGC today also decided to issue showcause notices to three deemed universities for not meeting academic standards. The message is loud and clear that only quality will be rewarded,” Javadekar said.
Showcause notices for withdrawal of deemed university status will be issued to Institute of Advance Studies in Education in Rajasthan, Vinayaka Missions Research Foundation in Tamil Nadu and Meenakshi Academy of Higher Education and Research, Chennai. These deemed universities were also blacklisted by Tandon Committee in 2009 for quality deficiencies.
The regulator also decided to withhold extension of deemed university status for Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology in Thanjavur and Nava Nalanda Mahavihara in Bihar for poor performance