On the advice of a NITI Aayog Committee, on which the authors had been privileged to serve (as chair and as a member), the human aid improvement (HRD) ministry and the University Grants Commission (UGC) initiated a critical reform in higher education in February 2018.

Under the reform, colleges receiving ratings of 3.Fifty one or higher on a scale of 0 to 4 from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), or authorized with the aid of the National Accreditation Board (NAB) in 3 or extra programmes with ratings of 750 or extra in every programme, robotically become eligible for autonomy.
The reform additionally opens the door to autonomy to incredibly lesser acting schools. But the technique for its miles extra complex as opposed to automatic. The revel in with the implementation of autonomy, so far, offers an interesting window to the issue of reform within the command and manipulate the system with a couple of strength centers that has remained undisturbed in better education.
Without determination and persistence at the part of actors and entities piloting reforms, odds are in favor of the survival of reputation quo. With autonomy, university profits complete manipulate of its future. Academically, it’s far loose to introduce new publications and programs and evaluation, restructure and remodel the prevailing ones. Administratively, it could represent it’s very own governing our bodies, along with the academic council, the board of research and finance committee.
And, on the financial the front, it has full freedom to restore its tuition costs. Other than a nominal prematurely rate at the time of supply of autonomy, it owes no association rate to its affiliating college. To date, fifty-nine colleges have acquired autonomy under the new rules, with every other 100-plus at diverse degrees of the manner. Remarkably, simplest this sort of 59 colleges — Government VYT Post-Graduate College in Chhattisgarh — is owned and run by way of the government.
All others are authorities-aided personal institutions. Our legal guidelines being what they may be, UGC can’t robotically confer autonomy on colleges. Instead, the electoral college has to observe for it to its affiliating college and the government of the country wherein its miles positioned.
In several cases, the primary hurdle the reform confronted turned into at the level of the college: its administration became hesitant to apply lest it leads to discontinuation of government funding. It took repeated assurances without delay and thru the national governments to carry the colleges on board.
Autonomous Resources
With fifty-nine colleges sooner or later declared independent, different colleges are starting to respect that autonomy brings more, now not less, assets. For, independent faculties turn out to be eligible for a sizeable furnish from GoI below its Rashtriya Uchchtar Shiksha Abhiyan.
Colleges affiliated to Delhi University, which became eligible for autonomy, have faced an altogether distinct hurdle: Delhi University Act explicitly forbids autonomy to the university’s affiliated colleges. A willing UGC has proved insufficient to provide autonomy to faculties in this example.
Such is the rigidity of our system that it calls for a modification of the Delhi University Act. In the case of Patna Women’s College, the simplest university in the entire jap and northeastern vicinity to score 3.51 or higher in NAAC assessment, implementation of autonomy confronted limitations from as many as 3 electricity centers: school, University of Patna and the country government.
The faculty feared an increase in workload while the university and state authorities were apprehensive about the loss of manipulating over the university. The college denied the university’s utility for autonomy twice. But, ultimately, there has been a glad ending, with the university acquiring manage of its personal destiny.
Eligible schools from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh uniformly bumped into obstacles. The hurdles included purchase-in by using faculty, procedural rigidities and multi-layered approval strategies of university our bodies, and resistance by using nation governments. Even after the grant of autonomy, the states have did not bypass on GoI offers to which colleges are entitled.
In Andhra Pradesh, independent schools hold to should comply with state government norms. In states, West Bengal and Maharashtra, autonomy had a clean sail. In each state, affiliating universities, as well as national governments, performed a supportive role.
Minimal procedural friction turned into mainly vital within the case of Maharashtra, since it accounted for as many as 25 out of fifty-nine faculties receiving autonomy. The good news in all this is that plenty exhilaration may be seen in newly self-reliant faculties. They are already capitalizing on their newfound freedom.
Mumbai’s Jai Hind College has begun numerous certificates courses in topics including movie manufacturing, theatre, pictures, digital advertising, and wine tourism. Ahmedabad’s St Xavier’s College has added MSc in massive information analytics and a degree in bioinformatics. Ramnarain Ruia Autonomous College is supplying certificate publications in Heritage of Mumbai and meals science and fine manipulate.
A New Chapter
Autonomous colleges are also breaking the traditional rigid diploma necessities via allowing students to take courses outdoor their commonly prescribed curriculum. Maharashtra is forming an Autonomous Institutions’ Consortium, which could permit students from one self-reliant university to take courses in some other self-sustaining university with full credit score given.
The consortium may also serve as the automobile for sharing assets and satisfactory practices amongst autonomous faculties. Change is sooner or later afoot in India’s faculties. The new authorities should accelerate this technique. Panagariya is professor, Columbia University, US, and Kumar is professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai