Debating upon the importance of autonomy with respect to educational institutions, Anil Sahasrabudhe, chairman of the all India council for technical education (AICTE), said that India wants to push institutes on the path of independence at the earliest. He was speaking at the national conference on Indian higher education challenges of autonomy and accountability, held at Hyatt Regency on Sunday.
He elaborated upon the importance of autonomy and the challenges involved in it. The conference was organised by the education promotion society for India (EPSI) withSahasrabudhe as its chief guest.
According to Sahasrabudhe, there are a number of roadblocks to autonomy and willingness is one of them. He revealed that India has failed to meet this year’s target to make 10 per cent of the total educational institutions autonomous. Only 5 per cent of the total national higher education base, has received autonomy by 2018.
“India still continues to lag when it comes to autonomy, while institutions in various countries like the USA have been doing very well independently. The point is that we want this target gap to fill up as soon as possible and we are willing to mentor the institutions that step forward to apply for autonomy. Now, with the system of graded autonomy, any institute with a national assessment and accreditation council (NAAC) score of 3.51 or more will get autonomy with various other funding and support facilities from the government. But, the institutes need to first try and better themselves to get scores and then show the willingness to be autonomous,” he said.
Countering the statement, Sandeep Sancheti, vice-chancellor of SRM Institute of Science and Technology (SRMIST) and the president of the association of Indian universities (AIU) stated that without financial stability, autonomy can become a burden for any institute.“You need to know your playing field before stepping into it unprepared. Autonomy cannot be forced upon an institute before it has reached the stage of maturity, or else it would lead to chaos and lead it to an identity crisis,” said Sancheti.
Replying to the same, Sahasrabudhe assured the government’s support to institutes to gain maturity.“We will be around to help, but the first push is needed. Once you learn to float, you will soon successfully begin to swim.”
The educationists added that the bureaucratic lethargy and inertia is yet another problem while trying for autonomy. Citing the case of Fergusson College, Mangesh Karad, vice-president of EPSI, said,“It took Fergusson College almost a decade to gain autonomy, especially because of the lethargy of the committee members appointed by the Savitribai Phule Pune University.”
EPSI members have further opposed the central government’s draft bill for introducing higher education commission of India (HECI) in place of the university grants commission(UGC).“With a central outlook in HECI draft bill, the state government and universities will be at a disadvantage, pushing the state education system into a chaos. The state stakeholders need to be in the loop at all costs,” said Harivansh Chaturvedi, alternative president, EPSI.