Colleges bestowed with autonomy would provide healthy competition and much needed leadership to be emulated by others.
The recent protests by some sections of the faculty in a few colleges in Delhi against the move to make these colleges autonomous have opened up a nationwide debate on the very efficacy of such an autonomy for the under graduate colleges. While the universities are accorded autonomy in matters of introducing courses, framing syllabus, formulating academic calendar, conducting of examinations and publishing results besides its day to day administration, the concept of granting autonomy to the colleges is a recent phenomenon. Autonomous status in a limited way is given by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to some select colleges within the preview of university system so as to encourage academic freedom in core areas like the need-based course selection, innovative methods in teaching, improvements in evaluating methods etc. It is estimated that about 550 under graduate colleges in the country are with autonomous status now and the number is constantly on the rise every year. With engineering, medical and management colleges making steep rise in their numbers in recent decades, greater focus is bestowed on such professional colleges. But these under graduate colleges where courses in sciences, humanities and social sciences are taught, suffer a general neglect as these courses are said to lack employability. Even pure sciences like physics, botany and chemistry are not sought after if those courses are not to be pursued at the post-graduate level. Literature, philosophy, history and other social sciences are only at the bottom of the students' choices. A number of colleges therefore have in recent times, started introducing tailor-made new and innovative courses at the under graduate level for the sustenance. Courses in computer applications, bio-technology, dairy technology, tourism, journalism and a host of other job-oriented courses are thus being offered to attract the students.