A while ago, rumours of “autonomy” for Lady Shri Ram College of Delhi University had riled up quite a few people so much so that the administration was forced to take quelling measures.

Now, several worried teachers in the University believe that the Ministry of Human Resource Development will be awarding autonomy status to their best colleges like St. Stephen’s, Lady Shri Ram and Shri Ram College of Commerce.

“Once the college has autonomy, it is finished,” said Nandita Narain, Mathematics teacher at St. Stephen’s.

“It is all about funding under the National Accreditation and Assessment Council; colleges need to maintain an “A” grade and a lower grade will reduce their funding, bring the college to bankruptcy and then the government can arm-twist teachers,” she added, explaining that the government was pushing for public-private partnerships in education to privatise education.

The scheme of grading has found opposition on many grounds. “People will be manipulated to arbitrarily award grading so that the college, which has built its reputation after many years of hard work will be forced to sell to the highest bidder,” said Ms. Narain, rubbishing the assumption that the colleges themselves were applying for autonomy. “I was in on the meetings of the governing council; there was not even a whisper about applying or even wanting autonomy.”

Another reason why the teachers are genuinely worried despite a formal announcement is that the soon-to-be-implemented four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) in DU also started out as a rumour.

“We are being forced to run from pillar to post now after the new structure has been pushed through, we want to take precautions and fight against this now itself,” said Abha Dev Habib, a stiff opponent of the FYUP.

Meanwhile, the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) has sent out a formal statement saying that it will fight against the move. “The DUTA categorically objects to this perverse move to wean these colleges away from the University in the name of academic and administrative autonomy ,” said DUTA president Amar Deo Sharma.

“Instead of opening new institutions and expanding the higher education sector, the Delhi Government has found it politically convenient to appropriate DU’s colleges. This has happened with the Delhi College of Engineering in the past with disastrous consequences,” said DUTA secretary S.D. Siddiqui.