Monday, May 09, 2011

Select colleges may grant degrees

The government is gearing up to pilot a legislation for ensuring greater levels of autonomy to colleges and institutes that have achieved a certain level of excellence. Keen to have legal backing to the proposal, the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) is learnt to have initiated the process of drafting a law that will allow reputed colleges such as St. Xavier's, Mumbai, and St. Stephen's, Delhi, among others to award degrees to their students — a sole prerogative of universities.

Though the ministry had been considering this proposal for a while, it has now decided that the plan must be backed by a law to ensure greater autonomy to institutes of excellence. But the degree-granting powers will come with riders. Such institutes will have to follow certain academic standards and best practices, encourage research, promote transparency in administrative and governance norms, etc.

Currently, colleges are affiliated to universities, which award graduate as well as post-graduate degrees. Several colleges had raised the issue before and argued they should be accorded powers to award degrees. A recent report submitted by a committee constituted to evolve a comprehensive policy for the autonomy of central educational institutions supports the move.

This committee, headed by legal educationist Prof. N.R. Madhava Menon, calls for greater autonomy to colleges and their gradual upgrade to university status. "The system of affiliation has let down academic standards both in the affiliated colleges and in affiliating universities. It is not conducive to continue the system in the present circumstances," reads the committee report. "Given the need for increasing the number of universities, it is appropriate that established colleges with a good track record are elevated to status of universities in a phased manner giving them time to organise themselves for new challenges."

The other suggestions include allowing IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) to offer degrees, semester systems and choice-based credit courses as well as dual degree programmes across unversities, freedom to central educational institutes to start any programme of study, establish centres and departments and create teaching positions, hire eminent faculty from across the world, etc.

Source: The Indian Express, May 9, 2011

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