Kerala

More engg. colleges may stake claim for autonomous status

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The State government move to accord autonomous status to five self-financing engineering colleges is likely to open the floodgates for many more institutions to stake claim for the status, eyeing the untapped funds.

College managements claim that the autonomy status will be a boost for engineering studies in the State, but academicians have cautioned against the adverse impacts any hasty decisions in this regard will create.

More from the first crop of self-financing colleges that came into being around 2001 are likely to seek the status. University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines for the conferment of autonomous status include NAAC accreditation with minimum ‘A’ grade or NBA accreditation for at least three programmes with a minimum score of 675. The college should also have at least 10 years of existence.

Academicians point out that while many engineering colleges in the private sector satisfiy the eligibility criteria, no feasibility study has been done to identify the possible ramifications of granting autonomy en masse. Highlighting the grey areas that demand much deliberations, some observe that there are no provisions for autonomy in the A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technological University Act, 2015. Besides, it remains unclear as to which colleges satisfy the provisions to be included under Sections 2(f) of the UGC Act, yet another criterion for autonomy.

Favourable policies

A section of educationists hold the view that the State could no longer afford to turn its back on the concept of autonomy. “The policies of the Ministry of Human Resource Development encourage autonomous institutes, while denying a significant chunk of funds to others. Increased funding could boost infrastructure, facilities and quality of education. At the same time, autonomy must not be granted without safeguarding the interests of the State in terms of admission, reservation policy and fee fixing,” an official says.

For self-financing colleges, their endeavour is a continuance of their long-standing efforts to attain permanent affiliation. It is also pointed out that academic autonomy holds key to the release of funds under the third phase of the Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP-III), jointly implemented by the Centre and the World Bank. Autonomous institutions are entitled to funds up to ₹15 crore under the scheme.

More freedom

According to the administrator of a self-financing college in Kottayam, the existing affiliation system curtails the growth of individual institutions. “Besides augmenting academic initiatives and removing stagnation in the existing system, autonomous status will grant us the freedom to design our own syllabus in tune with the latest developments. It will also ensure the time-bound conduct of examinations, valuation and publications of results. We also hope to admit good quality students, if provided freedom in conducting admissions,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 12:13:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/more-engg-colleges-may-stake-claim-for-autonomous-status/article30142482.ece

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