In a radical move, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided to promote the concept of establishing cluster college universities across the country during the 12th Five Year Plan period. This would minimize the burden of existing State-run universities in inspecting and affiliating colleges of the existing universities.
A UGC concept document submitted to the Union Planning Commission has mooted the creation of 400 such cluster college universities in India between 2012 and 2017. Besides, 20 exclusive women’s universities and 10 Meta universities would be established, if all goes as planned.
“In principle, the UGC has decided that no university in the country should have more than 100 affiliated colleges. Presently in universities like Pune, Mumbai and Osmania more than 900 colleges are affiliated to each of them,” revealed Prof. S P Thyagarajan, former Vice Chancellor, University of Madras and a co-author of the plan document. As a solution, the UGC has decided to establish college cluster universities – a scheme where 10 to 20 colleges in a region can be formed into a cluster and granted autonomy to share infrastructure and teaching faculty and function like a university.
“The load of affiliated colleges is actually affecting the output of our university system and restricting academic advancement and quality improvement of the university concerned. Conducting examination, affiliation works and syllabus revision is consuming enormous time of these universities. Revision of syllabus, which has to be done once in three years, has taken place in less than 20 per cent of the universities,” Thyagarajan explained.
According to him, the UGC would provide separate grants to these college cluster universities.
“Once the cluster is established, those colleges will no longer be affiliated to their parent universities. Another advantage of this systems is that lesser known colleges will be able to improve their quality,” he said. The UGC has also proposed to upgrade autonomous colleges, colleges with potential for excellence and colleges which have got ‘A Grade’ accreditation from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, into universities. Besides, evening colleges and evening universities will be promoted. Also universities will start offering Under Graduate courses.
The proposed Meta University Complexes would comprise a few universities situated in nearby locations along with industries in that area. “This would enhance the industry-institution interaction. The students will also get an excellent opportunity to learn in an employable location. This will facilitate horizontal and vertical mobility of faculty and students,” Thyagarajan reasoned.
Apart from this, the University Grants Commission has also decided to establish 800 constituent colleges in the existing 40 central universities. With these innovative approaches to provide access to higher education, the UGC is planning to increase the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) by 10 per cent from the current GER to 23.5 – 27 per cent.