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Colleges could decide fees, as Maharashtra bats for financial autonomy

Proposal will allow colleges to start new courses and even decide their own fees, but under the watchful eyes of the state and the universities

mumbai Updated: Apr 25, 2018 16:14 IST
Musab Qazi
Musab Qazi
Hindustan Times
Mithibai college is on the institutes from the city that recently received academic autonomy from UGC. (HT file )

Autonomous colleges in Maharashtra may soon be able to start own courses and have more control over fees, as the state is keen on providing financial autonomy to the institutes willing to take it.

At a recent meeting of joint board of vice-chancellors (JBV-C), chief minister Devendra Fadnavis urged vice-chancellors (V-Cs) of public universities in the state to give financial autonomy, alongside academic autonomy, to the institutes opting for it, said a government official.

The proposal will allow colleges to start new courses and even decide their own fees, but under the watchful eyes of the state and the universities they are affiliated with, said an aide to education minister Vinod Tawde. However, the minister insisted that financially autonomous institutes will be subjected to same norms of fee regulation as other colleges.

So far, colleges in Maharashtra were eligible for academic autonomy, which gave them the freedom to decide their own curriculum and examinations. Only a handful of colleges in the state have received autonomy — 11 out of 774 colleges affiliated with University of Mumbai (MU).

Sources added the state is pushing for more autonomy for colleges as it believes the move will enhance quality of higher education and resolve some of the administrative issues faced by the varsities.

“We are promoting autonomy because the government is not in a position to bring new ideas... Since universities can’t bear the burden of so many affiliated colleges, the minister and the CM want that all eligible colleges should be given autonomy on a fast track, with no hurdle from universities,” said Tawde’s aide, adding.

A state official said autonomy is an expedient way of resolving issues of governance in education.

They also said that norms of autonomy will be in line with the guidelines provided by University Grants Commission (UGC). The minister’s aide said that despite financial autonomy the state won’t stop salary grants given to aided colleges in the state.

There’s not much clarity on the extent to which the colleges will be able to control their fees. The minister's aide said that the colleges can't change the fees of the courses funded by the state government. He added that while the fees of professional courses such as engineering. medicine and management will continue to be regulated by the state's fee regulating authority (FRA), there's no such control over the fees of non-professional courses. "The colleges won't increase their fees much," he said.

The official, on the other hand, pointed out the Maharashtra Public Universities Act 2016 provides for a fee fixation committee at every university to control the fees of affiliated colleges. However, many of the state universities, including MU, are yet to constitute such a body.

Tawde said, “The autonomous colleges will be allowed to increase their fees only when other affiliated colleges will be permitted to do so.”

Autonomous colleges have welcomed the proposal. “This may be a necessity. If proper fee structure is not put in place, we won't be able to appoint good teachers and provide quality education,” said Ancy Jose, principal, Nagindas Khandwala College, Borivali, which as an academically autonomous college under MU.

MU hasn't revised fee structure for degree courses in last decade.

SS Mantha, former chairman, All India Council for Technical Education, cautioned that financial autonomy shouldn't lead to exorbitant fees. "While autonomy is a must for providing quality education, it cannot be a free-for-all activity. There must be a public mechanism to justify fees of the courses," he said.

First Published: Apr 25, 2018 10:05 IST