Proposal to convert about 45 autonomous colleges into universities on the anvil, says official

Two well-established colleges in Vijayawada were recently in the news, stating that they were offered university status by University Grants Commission (UGC) and a development fund of Rs.55 crore per college was on its way.

The Andhra Loyola College and P.B. Siddartha College of Arts & Sciences were in the news.

Clarifying the reports, Andhra Pradesh State Council of Higher Education (APSCHE) Secretary Satti Reddy said that the reports were baseless and premature. He pointed out that the UGC has nothing to do with this development.

“There is a proposal to convert about 45 autonomous colleges into universities under the 12 Plan and it is being handled by a separate body called Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) under the Ministry of Human Resource Development,” he informed The Hindu.

Long-drawn process

He went on to add that it was still in its formative stage and the Mission Director of RUSA R.P. Sisodia had just sent a letter asking the State governments to express their willingness to be part of the RUSA mission. “The last date for expressing our willingness is October 31 and we are in the process of conveying it. There is a long-drawn process thereafter and no college can claim such a thing,” he said.

The centrally-sponsored scheme RUSA was approved by the Union Cabinet on October 3 for implementation in the 12 Plan.

As per its long-term plan it has to upgrade 108 existing autonomous colleges to universities at an outlay of Rs.5,940 crore.

The target for the 12 Plan is 45 colleges at an outlay of Rs.2,475 crore, with each college getting about Rs.55 crore for development. While the Central Government will bear 65 per cent, the State’s share will be 35 per cent.

Still on paper

But all this is still on the paper. There is a sequence of events to follow such as the states expressing their willingness; states and institutions meeting stringent prerequisites, states creating and submitting their plans; State enters into an agreement with RUSA Mission Authority; then plans are evaluated on the basis of norms and criteria and RUSA allocates fund under specific components.

“We are still in the first step, the identification of the colleges and asking them to submit an application is still a long way to go,” said Mr. Satti Reddy.

Andhra Loyola College Principal G.A.P Kishore expressed a similar view that the media reports were premature.

“There is no doubt that we qualify the prerequisites, but the request is yet to come from the State Government. And moreover, we should be willing and our higher councils have to agree,” he said. The persons from the other college were not available for comments.