R. Krishnamoorthy

They say it will only dilute the standards set by these colleges

A common syllabus will amount to questioning the autonomy and existence of autonomous colleges

Making Tamil compulsory in Part I will prevent the colleges admitting students from other States

TIRUCHI: Expressing reservations about a common syllabus for core papers advocated by the Tamil Nadu State Council for Higher Education under the Choice-Based Credit System, principals of autonomous colleges of Bharathidasan and Bharathiyar Universities have moved the President, the Prime Minister, and the Union Human Resource Development Ministry, explaining the consequences of what they call the “regressive” move.

In a memorandum that has also been forwarded to the University Grants Commission, the Chancellor, the Higher Education Ministry and all Vice-Chancellors, they refer to the UGC’s emphasis on removing shortcomings of higher education by providing autonomous colleges with the freedom to determine their own syllabi, to restructure and redesign courses to suit local needs and to evolve methods to assess students’ performance, conduct examination and notify results.

In the context of the Knowledge Commission envisaging establishment of 1,500 universities and the UGC planning to grant ‘Degree Conferring Status’ to autonomous colleges that have functioned for more than 60 years and enjoyed autonomy for more than 25 years, the move towards a common syllabus would be “diagrammatically opposite to the objectives of decentralisation” of these Central Government agencies and dilute the standards upheld by autonomous colleges, the principals said.

Against the backdrop of several autonomous colleges following the Choice-Based Credit System successfully for the past five years, the Tamil Nadu Government’s plan to adopt the system across all colleges is a step forward, but a common syllabus even for autonomous colleges would amount to questioning their academic autonomy and their very existence, they said. The move would restrict knowledge explosion, creativity and dynamism and decimate their individual uniqueness in introducing innovative programmes in emerging areas.

The autonomous set-up ensured knowledge development through diversification and decentralisation of academic and administrative powers, they said. The move would also run counter to the objectives of the centralised educational agencies such as the UGC, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research that provide credit to autonomous colleges based on their distinctiveness.

Likewise, the proposal to make Tamil compulsory in Part I would prevent autonomous colleges admitting students from other States and countries. When two different syllabi were offered for Tamil—one for Tamil speaking students and the other for non-Tamil students—the marks awarded could not carry the same weightage. Tamil for non-Tamil speaking students could be made compulsory under Part IV. Two hours a week could be made instruction hours with one credit. Similarly, English should be offered for only two semesters for students of B.Sc. Computer Science, B.Com, IT, BBM, BCA and other special programmes.

As for Continuous Internal Assessment, autonomous colleges must be given the freedom to decide the weightage with the consent of their Boards of Studies and Academic Councils.