India has 868 higher education institutions, and the plan is to grant autonomy to 15%. A list of 62, including JNU & BHU, was released last month.

New Delhi: More colleges and universities will soon have reason to cheer, as the Modi government pushes to complete its target of granting autonomy to 15 per cent of India’s higher education institutions.

Over 65 institutions, including Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College, are set for graded autonomy — which means greater freedom from higher education regulators like the University Grants Commission and the All India Council for Technical Education. Under this plan, the institutes will have greater freedom to decide their own courses, set up off-campus centres and academic collaborations.

However, this also means they will be able to decide on the fee structure, which has led to a worrisome situation for students and parents, because it could mean the fees are likely to go up.

How many institutes?

There are 868 institutions of higher education in India, including colleges, universities, private and deemed, of which the plan is to grant graded autonomy to around 130 initially.

Last month, the Centre granted graded autonomy to 62 institutions, including Jawaharlal Nehru University, Banaras Hindu University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Jadavpur University, and the University of Hyderabad.

Government officials close to the developments are tightlipped about which institutions will get autonomy in the second round, but one source said St Stephen’s College would be on the list.

“St Stephen’s had applied for autonomy, and it is going to get it this time. As for which other institutes will receive it, there is a meeting in May to discuss the next list,” said the source.

On what basis is autonomy granted?

Autonomy has been granted to institutions on the basis of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) score, which defines the quality of an institute.

Institutes that have a 3.5-plus score are granted complete freedom from regulators; those with a lower score will face some amount of government/regulatory control.