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Autonomy 4 shake off CU legacy

Autonomy has started yielding academic dividends on campuses freed of the straitjacket of courses that force students to study what they needn’t and gloss over what they should.

At Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira, Belur, honours students are no longer bound by a common syllabus for each pass-course subject. For instance, the syllabus for math as a pass subject is different for a student majoring in physics and another studying computer science or economics.

Chapters on statics and dynamics have been omitted from the math syllabus for students of economics, while linear programming has been dropped from the course meant for those studying physics and computer science.

Less, of course, means more of something else. Students of economics are required to study extra lessons in analysis calculus in lieu of being spared statics and dynamics.

“Students of economics would often neglect the math general paper because they were forced to study topics that were not important for them. We hope they will now enjoy studying math. We want our students to enjoy all subjects, not just their honours papers,” said Swami Tyagarupananda, principal of Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira.

The Belur institution is one of only four autonomous colleges in Bengal. Granted autonomy in 2010, Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira intends restructuring its entire curriculum over time to remove the distinction between pass and honours, the principal said.

Autonomy pioneer St. Xavier’s College, which broke away from Calcutta University in 2006, has already revamped its curriculum to “rationalise” students’ workload and make its courses more practical.

Beginning the next academic session, St. Xavier’s will blur the lines between science and humanities, allowing undergraduate students to pick any combination of subjects in the prospectus. In theory, that means a student of chemistry can have film studies as one of his other subjects, or history for that matter.

An autonomous college can frame its own syllabi, conduct examinations and award degrees. Mark sheets and certificates issued by the institution bear its seal as well as that of the university.

Ramakrishna Mission Shikshan Mandir, a BEd college, and Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Narendrapur, are the other institutions that have been granted autonomy in Bengal.

Swami Tattwasarananda, principal of Shikshan Mandir, said his institution had implemented “a series of remarkable changes” to the BEd and MEd courses since getting autonomy in 2008.

One of the changes is making it mandatory for the MEd class to supervise the BEd students as part of teaching practice.

Those studying for a BEd or MEd degree from Calcutta University need to do projects and practicals only for science subjects.

Autonomous colleges

  • St. Xavier’s College
  • Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira, Belur
  • Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Narendrapur
  • Ramakrishna Mission Shikshan Mandir