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College autonomy nudge from university

Calcutta, Sept. 21: Calcutta University appears headed towards empowering an estimated 165 undergraduate college-affiliates to run post-graduate courses, provided they manage to prove their ability.

Suranjan Das, the university's pro vice-chancellor (academic), said the move, which has been ratified by the faculty council, will be placed before the syndicate for a green signal next week.

'We were scheduled to place it before the syndicate today, but could not because we are yet to finish the mandatory inspection of colleges that have applied for permission to run PG courses,' a senior university official said.

Das chose to explain the development as a 'move to empower the colleges,' but observers described it as a 'move towards granting autonomy to the affiliates'.

Following a nudge from the Centre, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had been pressuring the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government to take a stand on the issue.

The proposed empowerment of the colleges by way of setting up their own boards of studies is partially in line with the Centre's concept of autonomous colleges. In its original proposal, the Centre had suggested that colleges that are granted autonomy be allowed to run undergraduate and post-graduate courses independently.

The move will help colleges with the potential to develop quality infrastructure.

Five institutions, including the state-run Presidency College, offer post-graduate courses now ' the university awards the degree and fixes the syllabi. Three more colleges have applied for such courses now.

If the syndicate, the university's highest policy-making body, waves the green flag, officials said the clutch of privileged colleges would enjoy more power to run post-graduate courses as they will be allowed to have their own boards of studies.

This means that the independent boards will be allowed to frame their own post-graduate syllabus, devise their own teaching methods, appoint faculty members of their choice and may be allowed to adopt their own examination system independent of Calcutta University.

'The only way the colleges are going to be associated with the university is that the degrees awarded to their students will be awarded jointly by the institution where they study and the university,' an official said.

'For instance, a student who studies an MA or MSc course in Presidency College will get his degree awarded by Calcutta University and Presidency College. The degree will bear the name of both institutions,' Das said .

Under the existing system, the colleges are completely controlled by the university 'in syllabi, teaching methods, selection of teachers, examination system and awarding of degrees.

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