The higher education sector is now witnessing a trend wherein colleges, after functioning as autonomous institutions for some years, are surrendering their autonomy and going back to State universities for affiliation, according to H.A. Ranganath, Director, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

Perhaps, it has become difficult for colleges to function independently as autonomous institutions, he said.

Systemic failure

In his inaugural address at a workshop on ‘Revisiting the affiliating system and UGC schemes for the development of higher education’, organised by the College Development Council (CDC), University of Mysore, here on Saturday, Prof. Ranganath cited “systemic failure” as the reason for the trend. Universities must evolve as leaders — both in academics and in administration — to address concerns. “If universities do not lead as models, there will be burden on them and dependence on them will rise,” he said.

Universities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu started conferring autonomy on colleges much earlier, and Karnataka followed the trend.

Recognition

Autonomous institutions that are doing well should be elevated and recognised as “degree-awarding institutions”. “There is autonomy for colleges, but they cannot award degrees, which [power] still lies with the universities.”

Private universities

Prof. Ranganath disclosed that many private universities would be coming up in the State next year. This would bring in competition with State universities. Unlike State universities, private universities would be non-affiliating bodies and would not have the responsibility of administering affiliated colleges.

The NAAC director warned that the existence of State universities might be threatened if their staff migrated to private universities looking for better opportunities.

Quality gaps

Expressing concern over the quality gaps in the university system, he said colleges had more temporary faculty members, and deficiencies were not being addressed. This eventually affected the employability of graduates.

Presently, accreditation was voluntary, but it may become mandatory in the coming years. It was better to go in for voluntary accreditation to see where the institutions stood and whether remedial measures were essential to streamline the system, he said.

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