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Xavier’s to push for varsity tag in 2012

St Xavier’s College is planning to follow in Presidency College’s footsteps and apply for unitary university status, though in 2012.

Principal Father Felix Raj said on Tuesday that St Xavier’s College, which was the first Calcutta University (CU) affiliate to get autonomous status, would apply to become a unitary university once the autonomy period came to an end. The college was granted autonomy for six years by CU in 2006.

“We are going to apply for unitary university status once we complete our six years of autonomy, which will be in 2012,” said Felix Raj.

A unitary university functions like any other university but does not have colleges affiliated to it. At present there are three such universities in the city — Jadavpur University, Rabindra Bharati University and Bengal Engineering and Science University.

According to Felix Raj, the college will have to institute an internal evaluation and undergo scrutiny by the University Grants Commission (UGC) before submitting its proposal for the unitary university tag to the watchdog.

If approved, the college will have to approach the state government for clearance.

The principal added that the college would apply for the upgrade only if funds, either from the state or the Centre, were available. “We cannot be an unaided university, so we will seek assistance,” he said.

If the state gives its nod, the next step would be to frame a state law.

“Whether they get state or central assistance, the proposal will have to be approved by the Assembly,” said a Calcutta University official.

A university tag would mean a change in the governance of the college. It will, for instance, be headed by a vice-chancellor. The policy-making body will have to be on the lines of the executive council and the court of Jadavpur University.

The college is, however, concerned that a space crunch might come in the way of its functioning as a university. “We need enough space to expand… we have land but we are not being able to develop it,” said Felix Raj.

Speaking on “nurturing excellence” at a Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce event, Felix Raj stressed the need for freedom and responsibility as major criteria for achieving excellence.

“We have been autonomous for the past three years and the freedom and responsibility that came with it has helped us excel,” he said.

Outlining the advantages of autonomy, which would be further strengthened by the university status, the principal said the education system in the college now was more student-friendly.

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