JNU criticises govt’s move on autonomy of institutes, BHU, AMU stress need for financial, admin freedom
BN Rai, a professor of IIT-BHU, said, ‘This is a great decision. It has opened the door for designing and initiating need-based short-term courses which will help in generating employment opportunities.’education Updated: Mar 21, 2018 23:16 IST
The government on Tuesday announced that it will grant autonomy to 60 higher education institutions. The list included several top central and state universities. Hindustan Times spoke to their administration and students:
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY, DELHI
The left-leaning JNU teachers’ association (JNUTA) criticised the move and said the policy will promote commercialisation and privatisation. Many teachers said autonomy might undo what JNU managed to do over the years by providing access to higher education to all sections of society across the country.
“This is also a step towards withdrawal of the state from its responsibility of providing easily accessible higher education to all sections of the society, especially the marginalised groups,” Sonajharia Minz, president of the JNUTA, said.
Reflecting the divide in the university faculty, Amita Singh, professor at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, welcomed the move. “New courses will be started without any pressure from political groups. This will also increase employment for meritorious students. But the university needs to come up with a regulatory design...” she said.
BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY, VARANASI
The decision to grant autonomy evoked mixed reactions. Some felt this will boost academics while others feared it might lead to an arbitrary approach in giving incentive-based faculty emoluments and in appointing foreign faculty.
BN Rai, a professor of IIT-BHU said, “This is a great decision. It has opened the door for designing and initiating need-based short-term courses which will help in generating employment opportunities. ”
Prof Champa Singh of the department of Hindi said, “The more autonomy will give rise to nepotism in giving incentive based emoluments to the faculty.”
Divakar, a research scholar of Hindi, agreed and said the decision will have mixed results. “More autonomy gives freedom to design short term courses which may help in preservation of local dialects, culture and crafts. On the other hand misuse of power in enrollment of foreign students may be there.”
ALIGARH MUSLIM UNIVERSITY, ALIGARH
Students and teachers think academic autonomy is meaningless without financial and administrative autonomy. Many also feel the university must be recognised as a minority institution.
Professor Shafey Qidwai said, “AMU administration and teachers welcome the autonomy …but any higher education institution will not be benefited till it is granted financial and administrative autonomy too.”
AMU student union secretary Mohd Fahad said, “Though I have not seen details of the autonomy but as AMU is an institution of national importance, it should get full autonomy.”
Former president of AMU Teachers Association(AMUTA) Razaulah Khan said , “AMU was autonomous always but now things have been made clear and now the university must embark upon a developmental path with transparency.”
SYMBIOSIS INTERNATIONAL, PUNE
The staff and students welcomed the decision to grant autonomy and the Category 1 status the university was conferred.
“This will give us a lot of autonomy to start new programmes, off-campus centres, collaborations with foreign universities, etc. And, all that without having to go to UGC for approvals. Further, because of category 1 status, good teaching faculty, is expected to join us,” pro-chancellor Vidya Yeravdekar said.
Tejas Kumar, student body president at the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIMB) described the move as a “golden opportunity”
“While the autonomy ensures more academic and administrative freedom, it also means that the students will now have better opportunities lined up, both nationally and internationally. Owing to this, I hope that we get enhanced foreign faculty interaction, at all the SIU institutes, especially SIBM.”
DR DY PATIL VIDYAPEETH, PUNE
The teachers and students hoped the move will boost the institute’s plans to modernise its curriculum and elevate its pedagogy to match global standards.
“It is both an honour and a promise for a better future. For instance, we are planning to completely transform our curriculum, making it more relevant, skill and innovation-centric, as per the global standards and also increase both national and international collaborations. While we will be making no changes in the fees, the agenda following this declaration is to completely dedicate ourselves to provide academic enhancement to the students,” said PN Razdan, vice chancellor.
Piyali Deshmukh, a student of Biotechnology said the autonomous tag put the Vidyapeeth among the top institutions. “Now we hope to get much better facilities, foreign faculty, national and international exposure. Not just that, better placements and overall industry-preference for students passing out from here might increase...” she said.
UNIVERSITY OF HYDERABAD, HYDERABAD
University of Hyderabad (UoH) spokesperson Prof Vinod Pavarala said the Centre’s decision would help the institution but also increase its responsibility.
“Though we have already been enjoying autonomy in terms of having our own curriculum, we had been looking up to the UGC for introduction of new courses at the post-graduate level. Now, we don’t have to take permission to do that,” Pavarala said. “We can also have tie-up with other universities in the country and abroad with regard to introduction of new courses,” he said.
Ambedkar Students’ Union leader and research scholar Sannaki Munna however, expressed an apprehension that the autonomy would lead to anarchy. He also feared that the autonomy will affect marginalised sections, who might not be able to pay hefty fees if the university is allowed to decide its own fee structure.
Vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile said, “While we can justifiably take pride in what we have achieved so far, this new recognition should serve as an incentive to work even harder.”
EFL UNIVERSITY, HYDERABAD
Vice-chancellor Prof E Suresh Kumar expressed happiness over the Centre’s decision and said full autonomy would help the university expand its base.
“At present, we have only two centres — Lucknow and Shillong. Now, we get the flexibility to open more centres, like, for example, in Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh. We can hire foreign experts to teach on a part-time basis. We can introduce new courses without bothering to take UGC approval,” he said. “On fee structure, too, the university would get flexibility.”
Professor K Venkat Reddy of the Department of English, said the autonomy would expand the scope of teaching for the faculty members.
JADAVPUR UNIVERSITY, KOLKATA
The news of autonomy did not bring much cheer to several sections of Jadavpur University.
Vice-chancellor Suranjan Das, who is on leave, said the decision was a recognition of JU’s excellence. But the left-leaning Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA) is apprehensive.
“There is no word about administrative and financial autonomy. The institute is governed by the state government’s West Bengal Universities and Colleges (Administration and Regulation) Act, 2017. The salary of teachers and non-teaching staff is paid by the state government. It is not clear how the institution would work independent of government interventions,” said Nandini Mukherjee, assistant secretary of JUTA.
Soumik Sengupta, a third-year student of comparative literature, also shared the apprehension. “It is not clear whether the UGC will fund the new courses that the university can introduce under this new ‘autonomy’. There may be actually a push towards commercialisation of education,” said Sengupta .
(With inputs from Heena Kausar in Delhi, Sudhir Kumar in Varanasi, Avijit Ghosal in Kolkata, Srinivasa Rao Apparasu in Hyderabad and Ananya Barua in Pune)