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RSP lines up college autonomy spanner

Calcutta, Dec. 9: The RSP, a partner in the Left Front, today opposed the government’s decision to grant autonomy to undergraduate colleges, apparently sensing that it is a “step towards privatisation of education”.

The leader of the party’s education cell, Gita Sengupta, said the move will be thwarted as the RSP considers autonomy the “first step towards privatisation”. “Our party will raise objection once the issue is taken up for discussion by the Calcutta University syndicate this month. We want a thorough discussion. We will organise a seminar in January and invite all the front constituents to it,” Sengupta said.

Higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty told the Assembly yesterday that the government was not averse to granting autonomy to select colleges like Presidency and St Xavier’s. He had also mentioned that teachers and non-teaching employees of many colleges were opposing the government.

The syndicate, the highest policy-making body of Calcutta University, had first discussed the autonomy issue at its meeting on November 21, 2000. It had then urged the office of the University Grants Commission (UGC) here to hand over all papers related to autonomy for the colleges.

A dozen colleges, including Presidency, St Xavier’s, Lady Brabourne, Asutosh College and Gurudas College from the city and Krishnanath College, Behrampore, had approached the UGC for autonomous status after seeking formal permission from the varsity. But the syndicate has not taken a decision yet and the applications with the UGC are hanging fire.

The autonomous colleges would be allowed to hold post-graduate and undergraduate examinations following their own syllabi and issue certificates. The status will also entitle them to UGC funds worth several crores. The slow government response on autonomy had come under fire from the UGC, which said the state was depriving deserving institutions of development funds.

It was proposed in 2000 that the autonomy would be granted for a period of five years and after three years, a committee comprising officials from the UGC, the government, the university and the state higher education council would review it.

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