Mumbai: Colleges demand autonomy for academic freedom and flexibility

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Mumbai: Colleges demand autonomy from the state as they want to exercise academic freedom and flexibility in terms of functioning. Sixteen colleges in the city are autonomous while Maharashtra has a total of 68 autonomous colleges as the state recently declared few colleges as autonomous. Autonomy provides the power to decide academic syllabus, add new courses, formulate college schedule, examination time-table and extra-curricular activities.

Aushree Lokur, in-charge Principal of Ramnarain Ruia College, said, “It gives us the liberty to add new courses which are unique and also conduct examinations in practical, field work and theory format. We can also decide examination time-table so that it does not clash with extra-curricular activities of the college.”

Also, once colleges attain autonomy they can apply for a grant of Rs five crore for improving their infrastructure under the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), a holistic scheme of the centre for development of higher education in India. Colleges having a National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) score of at least 3.5 can apply for this grant which focuses on ‘enhancing quality and excellence in select autonomous colleges’.

This move of demanding autonomy has been initiated after the state declared Dr Bhanuben Mahendra Nanavati College of Home Science, Matunga, Hansraj Jivandas College of Education, Khar (west) and Changukana Thakur College, Panvel as autonomous colleges on Tuesday. Also, Guru Nanak Khalsa College, Matunga and Patkar-Varde College, Goregaon (west) received autonomous status last month.

The state education department claims they want colleges to improve their level of education by improvising the courses and method of teaching that they offer. A senior officer of the department said, “Colleges should use this academic freedom and power to start new courses and initiate changes in the teaching pattern. They can focus on practical exposure, advanced learning, skill development, creativity and overall growth of students through their curriculum and examination pattern.”

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