New Delhi: Federation of Central Universities Teachers' Associations (FEDCUTA) has called the UGC decision to grant autonomy to 60 higher education institutions as 'the misguided pursuit to make education market determined and market dependent'. In an announcement which was called 'historic', Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said the University Grants Commission (UGC) has granted 52 universities and 8 colleges.
The teachers association in a statement said the announcement by the government is reminiscent of 1991 liberalisation of Indian economy.
The statement countered the government's claim about the move 'to introduce a liberalized regime in the education sector', by saying it is 'implicit in this claim is that the education sector be best treated as a market for tradable services and that less regulations and freedom from government funding will allow this market to flourish'.
As opposed to the view that academic autonomy of institutions from the funding agencies, FEDCUTA said that, autonomy in the current policy parlance is synonymous with non-dependence on government funding.
"The current government view then presumes that the consequent dependence on revenue from commercial activities the market would enforce discipline and result in quality improvement," it said.
The teachers organisation said the Three Year Action Agenda 2017-18 to 2018-19 formulated by the NITI Aaayog summarises commercialisation and privatisation of education at all levels from schools to universities.
"It decries whatever little responsibility hitherto assumed by the Government towards provision of inputs and laying down regulations over requirements of minimal inputs for recognition of educational institutions," it added.
"It argues that the market is the best solution, that government funding of institutions directly is inefficient and that education be left to commercial enterprises and private players," said the statement.
The organisation also alleged that the Government has for some time been putting enormous pressures on colleges to become financially autonomous.
"Now it has started enforcing the graded autonomy on universities to make them financially autonomous. It has initiated the switch from grants to loan based funding for infrastructural needs of institutions through the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA)," FEDCUTA said.
The organisation also alleged that the government is arm-twisting public universities to sign a tripartite agreement with UGC and the MHRD that involves drawing up a blueprint for revenue generation and commitment to progressively increase the revenue they are to earn from the market.
"All these will make education commercial and reduce public institutions to cost cutting revenue maximisers," said the statement.
The minister yesterday said that the sixty Higher Educational Institutions which have been granted autonomy includes 52 Universities i.e. 5 central universities, 21 state universities, 24 deemed universities, and 2 private universities.
The central universities which are given autonomy included Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Aligarh Muslim University , Aligarh and The English and Foreign Languages University, Telengana.
A latest UGC regulation states that category I and II universities - categoriesed based on their high accreditation or top ranking -- can start a new course or programme or department or school or centre in disciplines that form a part of its existing academic framework without approval of the commission, provided no demand for fund is made from the government. The universities and colleges granted autonomy yesterday belonged to these categories.
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