Special Correspondent |The Hindu | 7 October 2016
A study done on autonomous colleges by the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) here has recommended grading of such institutions to improve their overall performance.
The functioning of four autonomous colleges in Kochi, include Maharaja’s College, Rajagiri College, St. Teresa’s College, and Sacred Heart College, were taken up as part of the study by researchers Nikta Mary Mathew and Martin Patrick.
The study suggested that colleges be graded on the basis of academic performance and infrastructural facilities as well as its social commitment. “Fee ceiling should be prescribed for various grades of colleges separately. This will motivate the institutions to excel in these criteria and ensure that there is an external control on the fee charged,” the CPPR study said.
It also found that admission to general merit seats and reserved seats for aided courses at autonomous colleges continued to remain transparent, while admission to self-financing courses offered by private autonomous colleges depended on the discretion of the respective managements.
“Huge donations are being collected for management seats. There has been a tremendous rise in donations collected by private autonomous colleges.
Though both private and government colleges charge the same fee for aided courses in principle, the reality is different. This is a huge anomaly, which is not properly addressed by universities despite a sound legal framework. The fee charged for unaided courses at private autonomous colleges is three times higher than that at government colleges,” the study said.
Meanwhile, teachers pointed out that the decentralised system of decision making in academic matters remained the greatest advantage of academic autonomy. They termed the opportunity to participate in curricula revision at an individual level as an “exciting challenge”.
Autonomous colleges have witnessed a spurt in admissions to self-financed courses.
Incidentally, there is greater burden on teachers, as they undertake a large amount of administrative work, including recruitment of clerks.
A section of students said the administrative responsibility on teachers had impacted the quality of training. There has been no significant improvement in research work, they observed.