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NEP’s vision to phase out varsity affiliation may hurt rural colleges

www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com | July 31, 2020
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PUNE: The Savitribai Phule Pune University has the highest number of affiliated colleges in which, along with the others, the New Education Policy 2020 has envisioned to gradually phase out of the system of affiliation over 15 years.

In contrast, despite getting several approvals from the union and state education departments, Fergusson College, is struggling to get university status for at least a decade.

Institutes like Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce, Sir Parshurambhau College and others are also in the race to function as standalone educational institutions.

Colleges in the outskirts or remote places of Pune district will face several challenges if their affiliation to the university is removed as many students enroll here only to acquire the Pune university degree.

Registrar of SPPU Prafulla Pawar said “Autonomous college requires various authorities and committees to be instituted in-house and compliance with all procedural aspects with quality assurance. It requires a larger quality human resources and infrastructure. The cost of operation also goes up. It’s a big challenge for colleges teaching conventional courses. There is an apprehension that government funding and support might be withdrawn in case of autonomous college. Higher cost structure is a challenge for rural colleges already struggling. The freedom to charge own fees has limitations.”

The new regulatory system envisioned by this policy will foster this overall culture of empowerment and autonomy to innovate, including by gradually phasing out the system of ‘affiliated colleges’ over a period of fifteen years through a system of graded autonomy.

Principal of St Mira’s College Gulshan Gidwani said the government wants to gradually withdraw funding higher education and this clause is a step in that direction. “They feel responsible for funding only basic education which will be till standard XI. On the one hand, they want to withdraw support on the other hand they want university nominees in all committees of autonomous colleges as well,” he said.

Principal of S P College Dilip Sheth said, “Last year, our first year courses were run on autonomy and this year we will run first and second year while next year we will be able to run all three years of undergraduate courses with the autonomy and its benefits of designing our own curriculum. It has its challenges in terms of the process to get autonomy, but it is the future for bigger institutions like us. Students do run behind the university certificate but once the trust builds, this barely remains a problem.”

Sanjay Chakane, principal of Arts, Science and Commerce College, Indapur said it is an opportunity for rural colleges to innovate and flourish, or be run down.“It is not that affiliation would be completely erased. It is just that there would be more autonomous colleges and cluster universities. There can always be a case were colleges are academically autonomous but affiliated to SPPU till the time, they themselves are ready to stand on their feet, via innovative teaching methods and competitive curricula. The worst hit will be those colleges, who have been running the institute without any vision, who do not care for teaching methods and make it a business.”

On autonomy

Each existing affiliating university will be responsible for mentoring its affiliated colleges. They can develop their capabilities and achieve minimum benchmarks in academic and curricular matters, teaching and assessment, governance reforms, financial robustness and administrative efficiency.. All colleges currently affiliated to a university shall attain the required benchmarks over time to secure the prescribed accreditation benchmarks and eventually become autonomous degree-granting colleges.

*Views expressed are personal.

(Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/neps-vision-to-phase-out-varsity-affiliation-may-hurt-rural-colleges/articleshow/77277299.cms)