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HRD ministry wants St Stephen’s to become a university now

In a bid to reform higher education system, the Human Resource Development Ministry is all set to adopt completely new approach towards funding varsities under the centrally sponsored scheme Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA). Under the scheme HRD ministry will promote autonomous colleges as university, while non-autonomous colleges would be upgraded to autonomous to pave the way for university status.

In an exclusive interview to Millennium Post, HRD secretary (higher education) Ashok Thakur said, ‘We are encouraging St Stephen’s to move ahead to be an autonomous body.’ Thakur, however, said that it’s the university which doesn’t want to free colleges from its apron strings as it (the University) gets a handsome amount as affiliation fee.

‘It’s the universities which don’t want to free such colleges. We are ready to provide them separate identity if they fulfill the required norms,’ Thakur said. Enumerating the norms for autonomous status, the 1977-batch IAS officer said, ‘If any college is accredited with National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), they must apply for the autonomous status.’

On the question whether setting up of new universities mean compromising with quality of education, Thakur said, ‘Under RUSA, existing autonomous colleges and institutions that fulfill the specified conditions will be upgraded to university status, and cluster of colleges (usually between three and five) with a high-performing institution acting as nucleus will join together to form a university.’

Recently, the HRD ministry has approved the guidelines and sanctioned grants for eight states under the Centre’s ambitious Rs 1 lakh crore RUSA programme.

On the issue of domiciled-based quota in Delhi University, Thakur said,’ It will not happen in Central universities.’

Notably, a total of 316 universities and 13,024 colleges will be covered under RUSA and 54 existing colleges would be converted into model degree colleges. Infrastructure grants would be given to 150 universities and 3,500 colleges to upgrade and fill critical gaps in infrastructure especially libraries, and laboratories. The RUSA scheme would also support 5,000 faculty positions.
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