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Autonomous colleges not keen on degree awarding status

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Bharathidasan University that has in its fold the largest number of autonomous colleges has not received any request so far during this year from any institution for transforming into degree-awarding institutions, in the wake of the University Grants Commission (UGC) encouraging such transition.

The UGC had, earlier this year, sanctioned more leverage for autonomous colleges with a ranking of 3.51 and above in the National Assessment and Accreditation Council’s 4-point scale to start their own courses, award degrees, and conduct examinations.

Out of 23 autonomous colleges affiliated to Bharathidasan University, there are at least five to six autonomous colleges that qualify the UGC's main requirement for awarding degrees that the institutions must have completed three terms of autonomy, each of five years duration.

The UGC's move to facilitate select autonomous colleges to transform into institutions with degree awarding status, it is learnt, was to further enable them attain the level of universities, in keeping with the Knowledge Commission's recommendation to increase the number of universities to 1,500 over the next few years.

“No communication has been received from any autonomous college so far for attainment of degree-awarding status,” Vice-Chancellor of Bharathidasan University P. Manisankar said.

Probably, there was apprehension among the institutions about the value the degree would have for students opting to pursue education further abroad, he observed.

Senior teachers in one of the autonomous colleges of high standing opined that the institutions fear about the continuity of government funding in the event of transforming into degree awarding institutions. There is no clear-cut assurance from the Government about continuance of funding, due to which there are fears that higher education could turn unaffordable for the economically poor people, the teachers explained.

“The degree awarding status for colleges could eventually dilute the quality of higher education in the absence of higher-level monitoring. Also, for students desirous of pursuing masters programmes abroad, foreign universities emphasise on genuine certificate,” State general secretary of Aided Colleges Teachers' Association Sahaya Satish said.

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