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Hurdle before autonomy: Only one out of 3 colleges in Maharashtra is graded

WT24 Desk

Although the government is pushing for autonomy for more colleges affiliated with state universities, National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) is yet to grade more than 70% of the institutes. Colleges with ‘A’ grade (the highest category) can seek autonomy, The Hindustan Times reports.

Data compiled by the state revealed out of 4,374 colleges affiliated with non-agriculture public universities in Maharashtra, only 1,253 have NAAC accreditation. Of these, just 352 colleges have been graded ‘A’ by NAAC.

Statistics reveal University of Mumbai (MU) has the highest number of NAAC accredited colleges. Of 791 colleges affiliated to MU, 273 have been graded and 116 of these are ‘A’ grade institutes.

NAAC accreditation helps colleges in getting funds from various government bodies such as University Grants Commission (UGC), Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT). Besides, UGC had earlier mentioned that colleges which get an ‘A’ grade in three consecutive assessment cycles should be awarded autonomy, allowing them to design curriculum and conduct exams on their own.

According to AD Sawant, former pro-vice chancellor of MU, several colleges do not opt for NAAC accreditation because they do not have much to show.

“Many private unaided colleges lack infrastructure and sufficient faculty. So they avoid NAAC assessment,” he added.

Sources said unwillingness of colleges to opt for NAAC assessment may prove a hurdle in the state’s efforts to increase the number of autonomous institutes in Maharashtra. The move is aimed at reducing the burden on the public universities in the state.

“We have set a target of granting autonomy to 250 colleges in the next five years. This target matches NAAC accreditation status of colleges. We are also looking to increase the number of accredited colleges to 900. Though the colleges are not inclined towards autonomy, we are pushing for autonomy through Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA),” said an aide to education minister Vinod Tawde.

Sawant believes universities and the state should ensure maximum colleges are accredited.

“A university needs to restrict affiliation and additional divisions to NAAC accredited colleges. Funding to grant-in-aid colleges should be stopped if they skip assessment. The state and universities must put their foot down. But it seems there’s neither academic desire nor the political will to address this issue,” he said.

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