Autonomy & Academic Excellence

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Aug 2018 12:28:46


By dr archana dadhe,

Be specific... Better in what? Placements, teachings, fests, etc. From my point of view, it shouldn't be distinguished that way. There are many Autonomous colleges that have the best infrastructure one can ever expect and also those one can never imagine off and the same case is with the Non Autonomous.

How much beneficial the academic autonomy to the institutions and what are its benefits and disadvantages? Do you think that academic autonomy is a solution for the problems that exist in present educational system?The concept of autonomy to colleges is not new. It was first formulated in the National Education Policy of 1992 and later developed by the Gnanam committee, appointed by the UGC.

A disadvantage of the large university system is their structural deficiencies slowing down decision-making. Every decision needs to go through layers of administrative setups like board of studies and other such bodies. The announcement of results in large universities is time-consuming. Chances of colleges manipulating results are remote lest it should damage their prospects in a global job market in a knowledge-driven economy.

There is a general impression that the quality of higher education in India, especially in the Arts, Science and Commerce fields, is not equal to international standards. Some changes in the structure of higher education particularly in the control of the Universities over the colleges, would improve the quality of education in the colleges.

Autonomy gives colleges the freedom to frame their own syllabus based on market needs. It also allows them to opt for innovative courses that may be added to the curriculum with approval from the university to which they are affiliated. The main benefit of this is that the colleges have a better and revised curriculum. They have the independence to run the college according to their set standards and objectives. They have the independence to use their own curriculum hold their own exams and evaluate according to the standards set by them.

In the present scenario the competition is getting intense and complex, therefore the need for qualitative, relevant and contemporary education is felt more prominently. Academic Autonomy is conferred by UGC is to be considered as an honour for any college. It is positive reflection on the academic excellence nurtured by that college. A paradigm shift in education is occurring where it is increasingly being seen as a commodity to be traded internationally, a "skill-set" to be purchased for application in marketplace Teaching-learning environment too is fast changing. Only an autonomous system, with decentralised management culture at its heart, can bring about much needed innovations, in order to stay relevant and change according to needs. Over the years higher education and its institutions have become more expensive with the importance of knowledge economy being asserted stronger than ever.

The core of academic life for a professor is professional or academic autonomy, often simply called academic freedom. This, in turn, is buttressed by the autonomy of the university, its freedom from political or other interference. Academic freedom means that in the core activities or tasks of the university, teaching and research, decisions are basically up to the academic staff.

Autonomy is always a good thing , but it must be combined with accountability. What is being done is proper. It will help colleges make the adjustment and increase the feasibility of their actions, besides granting them the power to make positive, constructive change. But there has to be a system to ensure that the basic rules are being followed.

There exist two forms of academic freedom: institutional, by which institutional autonomy, and "individual," by which the faculty's academic freedom. Curricular decisions are made based on fluctuating market and financial conditions rather than on the faculty's judgment of what students need to learn and what they need to teach effectively. Academic freedom principles give faculty the right to research and publish the results, to discuss their subjects in the classroom, and to speak out as citizens. Autonomy to the institutions by the University Grants Commission gives greater flexibility to them towards purely academic development for uplift of academic standards and excellence. However, autonomous colleges have been given the flexibility to design their own curriculum, keeping in mind the needs of the industry. “Autonomy has been given to the institution to produce graduates to meet industry requirements.”

Following major differences can be made out:

1. Autonomous colleges have their own syllabus, Non autonomous colleges follow same syllabus in strict accordance with university.
2. Examination papers are set by the faculty in autonomous colleges, while paper is set by university committee for other colleges.
3. Autonomous colleges provide with CGPAs or grades while the others get the marks.
4. Degree is jointly awarded by university and the colleges in autonomous cases.
(The author is from MBA Department, G S College of Commerce & Economics, Nagpur and can be reached at [email protected]) n