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From now on performance to determine autonomy of educational institutions : Grant of Graded Autonomy to Institutions of Higher Education

The Economic Times | Anubhuti Vishnoi |  ET Bureau |  May 16, 2017 |

NEW DELHI: The performance of educational institutions, measured on quality parameters, will henceforth determine the extent of autonomy and the level of regulatory scrutiny they will face. The government has also decided that top-ranking institutions will be exempt from the UGC’s review mechanism.  The blueprint for this new regime is ready and the draft University Grants Commission (Grant of Graded Autonomy to Institutions of Higher Education) Regulations 2017 is crucial for this.  The new regulations (to be brought in through Section 26 of the UGC Act, 1956) show the clear stamp of the Prime Minister’s Office which has pitched very strongly for institutional autonomy despite some resistance from the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry. They also follow the budgetary announcement this year to restructure the rigid UGC-led regulatory framework for higher education –– a recommendation made by almost all higher education committees.  To be applicable to all universities established under a Central Act, a Provincial or State Act as well as Deemed to be University and all autonomous colleges, this regulation will come into effect as soon as it is notified in the Gazette of India.

The framework for ‘Graded Autonomy’ will hinge on the score of an institution given by the Academic and Administrative Audit (AAA) peer team and the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).

TIER I : For eligibility to this category, an institution must conform to two criteria –– it needs a score of A+/A++ in the accreditation carried out by AAA (score greater than 3.5 on a 4 point scale) and also be ranked among the top-75 institutions in the NIRF rankings for that year.

Level of Autonomy: Having attained the desired level of institutional excellence, these institutions will be free from UGC review mechanism completely. These top category institutions will be free to start new courses and departments, enter into academic collaborations with foreign educational institutions, undertake curricular reforms and introduce academic innovations in tune with the global best practices. They can also start their own new campuses and centres as per their own Act and regulations governing them and also have the freedom to fix fees for any programme on their own.

TIER II: For eligibility to this category, an institution must have one of the following criteria –– it needs to score A+/A++ in the accreditation carried out by AAA (score of greater than 3.5 on a 4 point scale) OR be ranked among the top-75 institutions in the NIRF rankings for that year.

Level of autonomy: With a high level of institutional excellence having been achieved, these institutions will not have to go to the UGC to start new departments and courses, set up new campuses, fix fees for programmmes or undertake curricular reform.

TIER III: Institutions which have either scored Grade A in AAA accreditation (score 3-3.5 on a 4 point scale) or which ranks among the top 150 institutions in the NIRF rankings for the year, will fall in this category.

Level of autonomy: With a moderate level of excellence, these institutions will not need to approach the UGC for starting new courses and undertaking curricular reforms. They will, however, be reviewed by the UGC’s expert committee every 5-7 years.

TIER IV: Any institutions which has neither scored a Grade A in the AAA accreditation nor is among the top 150 in the NIRF ranking.
Level of Autonomy: These institutions will be reviewed and visited by a UGC Expert Committee as per UGC Regulations. These reviews will aim at identifying constraints and lacunae hampering the institution. A peer team will ‘mentor’ and handhold such institutions and suggest best practices to improve in the required areas.

If any of the tier-1 and tier-II institutions fail to get the required ranking for the second consecutive year, it will automatically slide down to a lower level of autonomy and open itself to greater UGC scrutiny.  The autonomy of institutions granted under various categories will be protected and override all other UGC regulations that may come into conflict with it.  Every institution which gets autonomy must take it upon itself to ensure basic minimum requirements such as infrastructure, faculty and other facilities prescribed by UGC. They will also be expected to strictly follow UGC regulations on specific degrees. – Courtesy


HRD to bring ‘graded regulatory mechanism’ in UGC: Prakash Javadekar

The Times of India | PTI | Updated: Feb 5, 2017 |

NEW DELHI: The HRD ministry will bring in a “graded regulatory mechanism” as part of key reforms in the University Grants Commission (UGC) to usher in greater transparency, freedom and autonomy, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said on Sunday.  The HRD minister also announced that ‘SWAYAM’, an open web based platform from which 2000 courses will be run for students across the country, will be launched next month .  Referring to the Union Budget 2017, Javadekar said that it reflects the government’s vision of raising quality in the education sector, which has got additional funds this time to the tune of Rs 6,000 crore.  He said that as per the Right to Education Act, learning outcomes are being defined and will be part of the coming academic session.

Another initiative is an innovation fund of Rs 100 crore for schools which will be introduced in educationally backward districts, he said. He said a separate exam agency has also been announced which will conduct major exams, many of which are being conducted by an “overburdened” CBSE, he said. The CBSE’s main focus is to look after school education. Speaking about UGC reforms, Javadekar said that thrust is to give more autonomy to good institutes and “monitor mid-level and monitor more those in the lower rungs”.  “Everybody would be incentivised to go upwards,” Javadekar told reporters here. Referring to the IIM Bill, which is expected to come up in the current Parliament session, Javadekar said it indicates the shape of things to come.  He referred to SWAYAM which is a MOOCs platform and said that it would become what ATM is for money.  “It will be any time learning and anywhere learning,” he said while thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for the budget provisions.   –   Courtesy

Bye bye to UGC’s autonomy :  The New Indian Express :  Sanjay Singh  |   Published: 05th February 2017

NEW DELHI: The autonomy war continues on the battleground of Indian education. The truculent University Grants Commission (UGC) is the new casualty. The Union HRD Ministry is setting up a new funding agency for universities and higher educational institutions, Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA), for the purpose and relegating UGC to just an academic regulatory body. Top government sources told The Sunday Standard that the modalities of the HEFA’s composition and functioning are being worked out and a committee has been constituted. The process of pruning UGC’s financial powers were apparent last year when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced HEFA in his last budget.  However, amendments were needed in the UGC Act to trim its powers. Officials said the issue has now been resolved in this budget, after reforms were announced in the functioning of UGC to give more autonomy to higher educational institutions. The move has now paved the way for the government to bring in a change in the UGC Act. The UGC will lose the power to fund institutions and its role would be restricted to purely look at academic issues as a regulatory body, said sources. Some of the powers may go to the National Assessment and Accreditation Council. However, a UGC official raised a question mark on the government’s intentions

“By having adequate representation of Union HRD Ministry in HEFA, the government will control funding institutions. As such the governments claim for autonomy is a misnomer, an eye wash,” said a central university official who did not wished to be named. The Modi government is unsatisfied with the functioning of UGC and its mishandling of issues related to deemed universities. The moves assume significance as UGC has run into a legal tangle with some reputed universities such as the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai among others over their off-campus centres and expansion plans. Additionally UGC is yet to put in place a mechanism on selecting experts. Officials believe there is always a possibility for misrepresentation or wrongdoing. The UGC’s latest budget allocation has gone up to Rs 4,692 crore from Rs 4,492 last year—an increase of 4.45 per cent and an additional Rs 250 crore from Rs 2,000 crore of HEFA’s corpus. An official explained that as soon as the funding power is switched from UGC to HEFA, the agency corpus will be Rs 6,942 crore—a significant 55 per cent hike in funding for higher educational institutions. –  Courtesy

University must decide on autonomy in three months

The New Indian Express | Express News Service  |   26th November 2016 | ‘University must decide on autonomy in three months’ |

COIMBATORE: Universities can no longer hold on to applications of affiliated colleges seeking autonomy status. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has set a deadline of three months before which a decision on the application needs to be taken by the university. The UGC has incorporated a new clause in the guidelines for autonomous colleges in the XII Plan period. The new clause asks universities to formulate a transparent policy to deal with proposals submitted by its affiliated colleges for autonomous status. The university’s decision should be communicated to the respective college within three months from the receipt of the proposal. In case the proposal is rejected by the university, the decision should be communicated to the college through a ‘speaking order’, the guideline says.

If the university fails to take any decision on the proposal within three months from the receipt of the proposal, it shall be presumed that the university has no objection to the submission of the proposal by the college to the UGC for autonomous status, it adds. The revised guidelines for autonomous colleges by the UGC proposes to increase the number of autonomous colleges to spread the culture of autonomy. The target is to make 10 per cent of eligible colleges autonomous by the end of the XII Plan period. The criterion for identification of institutions for grant of autonomy includes academic reputation and previous performance in university examinations, co-curricular and extension activities. Colleges can also apply for autonomy after they have completed a minimum of 10 years and have accreditation by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) or National Board of Accreditation (NBA). –  Courtesy     /       Published on 25/11/2016 :  UGC Notice reg.: Revised Guidelines for Autonomous Colleges 

HRD Minister bats for autonomy for colleges

The Hindu | Special Correspondent |

More institutions should seek autonomy, as it brings responsibility and lifts the quality of education, Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar said here on Saturday.  At the 90th year celebrations of PSG & Sons’ Charities, the Minister said the Government’s intention and policy was to grant complete autonomy to institutions that want it so that the quality of education could be improved. “I want more institutes to come forward to become autonomous,” he said. It will give a sense of responsibility and ownership and the institutes will develop quality education system, better teaching systems, good laboratories, etc., and there will be a greater learning process. The students will have more hands-on experience and will become skilled, empowered, and employable,” he said. The Government has put out the draft guidelines for development of world-class institutes. Educational institutions should go through it and give their suggestions for modifications. The Government is looking at greater autonomy and freedom and lesser regulation for educational institutions that provide good quality education. It will be 50 per cent regulation and autonomy for the average institutions and 90 per cent regulation for those with poor quality education. The criteria for this will not be based on NAAC ranking but a national ranking framework, which will be the benchmark. He urged the institutions to participate in the ranking as it is a robust system.

There are nearly 50 million students in college streams in the country. Many institutions just provide degrees and do not give the students hands-on experience and there is no teaching – learning experience.  Hence, when industries recruit candidates they train them again to become employable. Institutions that provide quality education and all stakeholders of higher education should come forward and tell the Government about those with bad practices so that the Government takes note and acts against them.  G.R. Karthikeyan, founder trustee of PSG & Sons’ Charities, said the Government should classify some of the institutions, based on specific criteria, similar to National Institute of Technology, and provide more autonomy. It will enable growth of quality engineering education.  L. Gopalakrishnan, Managing Trustee of PSG & Sons’ Charities, said the alumni of PSG Institutions have come forward to establish a foundation to support several activities, including setting up of a science and technology museum. –  Courtesy

Private Colleges With High NAAC Score Can Seek Autonomy

The New Indian Express |  By Express News Service |  23rd March 2016 |

BENGALURU:  Affiliated private colleges can now secure autonomous status if they have secured high grades from National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). This is if the college gets permission from the university it is affiliated to, said Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Smriti Irani, here on Tuesday. She was speaking at a national conference on “Making India a Global Hub for Quality Higher Education,” organised by the Education Promotion Society of India. She also agreed with the recommendation made by a few private varsities to not have a government nominee on their Boards of Managements. However, she said that if the varsity had to engage with the University Grants Commission (UGC), a nominee from UGC will have to be selected. Speaking at the venue, Prof D P Singh, Director, NAAC, Bengaluru, said that in order to be an important player in the global arena, Indian higher education needs to adopt a truly global outlook. “It involves international collaborations for teaching, research and training along with faculty-student exchange programmes. Our curriculum also needs to match global standards,” he said. A new Education Policy is being formulated and many schemes and reforms are in the pipeline in the education sector, he added.

AICTE Approval

Speaking of annual approvals for various courses from All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), Irani said such practices will be put to an end. Approval for courses will be equated with the accreditation granted to the varsities, which is for a period of five years. The National Achievement Survey, which is conducted once every three years by National Council of Educational Research and Training, will henceforth be conducted every year in all states, she said. Irani said the annual data collection exercise will help in improving the quality of education.

Hike in Fees

If the demands of private medical colleges are heeded by the Medical Education Department, it is likely that their fee will go up ‘substantially’. Medical Education Minister Sharan Prakash Patil said the demand is yet to be considered by the Department. He said three medical colleges will open in the next academic year in Karwar, Chamarajanagar and Madikeri, and will have a combined intake of 150 students. –  Courtesy

The Centre (PMO) is working on a proposal to establish 20 world-class universities

Prakash Kumar |  December 11, 2015 |  NEW DELHI |  DHNS |

The Centre is working on a proposal to establish 20 world-class universities which will enjoy greater academic and financial autonomy with the University Grants Commission (UGC) having no control over their functioning.

The government will identify and “encourage self-selected group of passionate and committed individuals” and also corporate houses to set up 10 of the 20 proposed varsities of world-class standard, official sources told Deccan Herald. Other 10 such universities are proposed to be set up by the government itself. The varsities proposed to be set up by the private entities will be established as deemed to be university. “As proposed, these universities will have complete academic and financial autonomy in their operation with no interference of the UGC in their functioning. Some enabling rules will be made to ensure their autonomy,” sources added. The proposal is being given a final shape by the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry in consultation with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The ministry, which has prepared a concept note for establishment of these universities after one round of discussion with the PMO officials on November 21, is expected to give another presentation to the PMO next week. According to sources, each of the 20 proposed universities will have at least 40 per cent foreign faculties. Those including Indians who have studied abroad and earned their degrees from reputed institutions will also be given preference in appointment of faculties.

Though these universities will primarily cater to the needs of the students in India, it has been proposed to fill up 15 to 25 per cent of seats with foreign students, sources said. Each of the 20 universities will offer various degree programmes in minimum 20 disciplines, sources added. The proposal to set up world-class universities, involving individuals and corporate houses got the PMO’s approval last month. As the ministry cited various hurdles, including current regulations of the UGC in implementation of the plan while making a presentation before the PMO, it was decide that the ministry will examine the “extant regulations” and make an action plan to provide adequate academic and financial autonomy to the proposed universities. –  Courtesy

PEC University of Technology can be model for autonomy: AICTE chairman

The Times of India |

CHANDIGARH: Batting for autonomy of engineering colleges in India, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) chairman Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe said PEC could be a model of autonomy for the other colleges. “If colleges are given autonomy to set their own syllabus and curriculum, they will have specialized content, which would cater to the needs of society and industry,” he said. Citing an example, he said as far as Punjab is concerned, agriculture based technology is required here, so colleges of the region can devise curriculum accordingly. Sahasrabudhe said a college would have 20% to 25% of its own curriculum and 70% to 80% of the model curriculum. “Whether we say you should use the model curriculum or not, colleges will use it because 70% to 80% of the curriculum will be the same even if you consider colleges around the world,” he said, adding that of the 3,000 engineering colleges in the country, around 100 have come forward to get autonomy.

Sahasrabudhe said autonomy brings a sense of responsibility to an institution. Moreover, a review committee report on the AICTE suggests autonomy for all colleges in the country. Accordingly, instead of the university syllabus, each college can have its own curriculum based on the immediate requirement. AICTE does not grant autonomy to an institution. The institution seeking autonomy has to approach the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the UGC makes a committee, of which AICTE becomes a part, provided it is an engineering college. For colleges of other streams, AICTE does not become a part of the committee.  –  Courtesy

No Autonomous College Will Get to Award Degree: UGC

The New Indian Express | Ram M Sundaram | 13th October 2015 |

CHENNAI: Autonomous colleges will not be granted powers to award degrees, UGC vice-chairman H Devaraj has clarified, following reports on the UGC Act being amended in this regard. This was a recommendation by an expert committee headed by former MHRD Secretary Ashok Thakur, which was set up to look into the suggestion to grant this power to reputed colleges. The committee had proposed that reputed autonomous colleges that have more than 25 years of experience in the field of higher education could be upgraded by according them the power to grant degrees.  This was part of the suggestions to reform the regulations guiding autonomous institutions affiliated to universities, for which the  committee was formed. But the committee required the consent of the UGC to introduce this important academic reform. In the meanwhile, media reports last week claimed that the UGC Act has been amended in this regard.

Denying these reports, Devaraj told Express that UGC had rejected the Ashok Thakur committee’s proposal. The HRD ministry has not taken up the issue so far, said the official, adding that the amendments were not on the cards anytime soon. Secretary of All India Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation (AIFUCTO), Asok Barman said with no definite policy framework, the HRD’s stance keep changing very often. A senior academician from a leading autonomous institution said this practice adopted by developed foreign countries would help the autonomous institutions come out of the routine administrative tasks and focus more on research and innovation. But, without a proper monitoring mechanism in place, the quality will get diluted over time, he added. Calling the earlier proposal as retrograde in nature, a city-based college principal said, “When universities continue to grant degrees and approve start of new courses, how can the UGC delink and give the right of awarding degree alone?” TN Government College Teachers Association president R Venkatachalam said a degree certificate awarded by an university deserves more recognition compared to a college-awarded certificate. In the present scenario, this amendment would have brought down the education quality, he added. The ministry should come forward to get opinions from academicians and teacher associations, and frame a policy so that education sector is not affected, Asok Barman said. – Courtesy

VTU (Visvesvaraya Technological University) violates UGC rules on college autonomy

The Times of India | |

BENGALURU: Violating guidelines of the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) has given seven engineering colleges autonomy only for their UG courses and not PG programmes. This has put these colleges in a spot as they are finding it difficult to attract students to their PG courses.  Since 2007, VTU has granted autonomy to 16 engineering colleges. However, seven of them have got autonomy only for their undergraduate courses. This despite, the UGC guidelines for autonomous colleges during the 11th plan period – 2007-12 – clearly stating that autonomy granted is institutional and covers all courses at UG, PG, diploma and MPhil courses offered by the college.

An angry principal told TOI, “Since autonomous colleges frame their own syllabus that meets the requirement of companies, more reputed firms approach them to conduct campus interviews and 100% students get placed. But VTU is not giving us autonomous status to cover PG course, as a result of which many companies don’t come for campus interviews for PG students. Companies also hesitate to establish their labs on their campuses.” B S Satyanarayana, principal of RV College of Engineering, said as VTU is not giving autonomy for both UG and PG courses, the process of getting accreditation from the National Board of Accreditation gets delayed. A senior faculty member of an autonomous college said VTU is also giving an explanation as to why it has not been giving autonomous status to both UG and PG courses. Defending the university’s decision, VTU vice-chancellor H Maheshappa said: “These colleges are not meeting our eligibility criteria for PG courses to make them autonomous. Those who are eligible have been given autonomy.”- Courtesy

Ready to grant autonomous status to more colleges: UGC

The Times of India | |

CHENNAI: As many as 20 colleges in Tamil Nadu have applied for autonomous status this year, said vice chairman of UGC, H Devaraj, also pointing out that the University Grants Commission was looking forward to grant autonomy status to more colleges. “Over 455 institutions in the country are autonomous and Tamil Nadu fares well as about 155 institutions in the state are autonomous,” he said, speaking at an international conference held by the Tamil Nadu Teachers Education University here on Monday. He also said about 250 teachers from across the country have been selected for the UGC’s faculty recharge programme for appointing skilled teachers across universities. He said they are in the process of identifying another 800 teachers for the next three years. Stressing on lack of quality among teachers in universities, Devaraj said the UGC was hoping to recruit more skilled teachers to bring about improvement in the education system. The programme aims to post 1,000 skilled teachers in next five years. Meanwhile, the National Council for Teacher Education has sought a re-recognition for conversion of UG and PG courses in education.- Courtesy