Shyam Ranganathan

CHENNAI: Nearly 150 colleges in the State may be eligible for the unitary university status, the Committee appointed by the government to look into the issue has said in its report.

The five-member committee under V.C. Kulandai Swamy appointed last year to look into the issue of upgrading government and government-aided colleges to unitary universities submitted its report to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Wednesday.

In the report, the Committee listed eight criteria, including the age of the institution, land area, number of faculty, number of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, ratio of PhDs, accreditation and potential for excellence.

It has provided marks for each criterion and a maximum of 75 marks may be obtained by any institution.

Of the 202 government and government-aided arts and science colleges in the State assessed by the Committee, it has found that 150 scored over 50 per cent (37.5 marks), and may be eligible for the unitary university status.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone, Dr. Kulandai Swamy said the idea was to provide a benchmark for the status of unitary universities. “There are other considerations in policymaking, including distribution of universities, based on regional and other criteria. The final number of colleges upgraded depends on the government's policy requirements. We have kept 50 per cent as a minimum threshold,” he added.

He said five government colleges suggested for upgrading last year – Presidency College, Queen Mary's College, Government Arts College, Coimbatore, and Government Arts and Science College (Men and Women), Kumbakonam – had all scored “extremely well.”

The report suggests that expert teams be formed by the Tamil Nadu State Council for Higher Education to visit the respective colleges to assess them and that a Model Act be prepared based on which separate Acts may be passed by the Legislative Assembly to upgrade each college.

While the report describes the actions to be taken to address the concerns of various teachers' associations and other groups who made representations to the committee, the Association of University Teachers (AUT), which had boycotted the Committee, said the main concern had not been addressed.

“Once these colleges receive university status, they may function just like a deemed university with very few constraints,” P. Jayagandhi, president, AUT said.

The report is available on the government's website.