Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar
In February this year, University of Delhi officials invited chairpersons of the six best known colleges to apply for autonomy. So far, only the governing body of St Stephen’s College has reacted, authorising its principal to take up the application process. Teachers and staff associations of the university, DUTA (Delhi University Teachers’ Association) and DUCKU (Delhi University Karamchari Union), are against the move. Besides affecting the working conditions of faculty and staff, college autonomy has bearing on the academic content of undergraduate learning. It is surprising that many of the academic red flags are not even noticed in the policy. These obvious blind spots indicate that real motivations are not academic, but lie elsewhere.
The XII plan document of the UGC sets the target to make 10 percent of eligible colleges autonomous by the end of the plan period. It boldly declares, ‘(t)he only safe and better way to improve the quality of undergraduate education is to the link(sic) most of the colleges from the affiliating structure’. The claim is surprising, because world over university education is considered a good undergraduate education. A university with active research, accomplished faculty and diversity of subjects to offer is the best place for a young person to get initiated into the adventure and challenges of higher education. How taking students away from the ambit of a university becomes the way to better education requires a bit of an explanation. Continue reading Elephants in the Room – Who Gets the Autonomy in Autonomous Colleges? : Sanjay Kumar
In March this year in a rural hamlet 3 hours by train from New Delhi, the local edition of Hari Bhoomi carried an unusual piece of news: Central University of Haryana (CUH) at Mahendragarh, had filed a police complaint against a Facebook page.
The story was short on specifics, but an email to the university registrar, Ram Dutt, elicited a reply:
“Yes, University has filed a complaint against the CUH Media page (anonymously administered unlawfully using acronym of the University) to trace the identity of the page. As the University is Autonomous Body and has the right to continuous vigil to maintain the reputation of the University on the Internet World …”
What was this page, “anonymously administered”, that had the administration so upset? Who were these students “unlawfully using the acronym of the university” to besmirch the university’s reputation “on the Internet World”?
At first glance, the CUH Media page was just like the millions of pages on Facebook visited by a small band of followers – at last count it had just 174 “Likes” – who trolled each other. But a closer look at the posts, the comments they attracted, and their ripples offline, since the page was started in September 2015, suggested the gradual emergence of a spiky student politics in one of India’s newest central universities. Read More
“The manner in which the state is intervening in higher education is causing concern and even alarm in the academic community. Both the unlamented UPA—II regime and the current NDA government have been remarkably similar in their authoritarian impatience to introduce wholesale changes without adequate or careful preparation. This position paper is the collective product of roughly six months of discussion among teachers of several central universities in Delhi. It is an attempt to participate in the process of critical self evaluation of the university system as it is today. It is also our considered response to the many policy statements and directives issued by the MHRD and the UGC recently”
Please click on the link below for the complete position paper on proposed reforms in higher education, prepared by Delhi-based Academics for Creative Reform and released at a press conference today: