There might be no autonomy for Delhi University's prestigious St Stephen College following the legal opinion that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has received stating so.
There might be no autonomy for Delhi University’s prestigious St Stephen College following the legal opinion that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has received stating so. According to an Indian Express report, the UGC recently received an adverse legal opinion on the application filed by St Stephen’s College for autonomy. The report states that the legal opinion received by the higher education regulator has diminished the chance of the college gaining autonomy any time soon.
In the month of May earlier this year, a team of inspectors from UGC visited the college and filed a positive report recommending autonomy. In a meeting scheduled on May 24, the University Grants Commission was expected to formally approve the team’s recommendation. However, the lawyers of UGC have advised them not to let institution affiliated to Delhi University be granted autonomy unless the university Act is amended.
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Clause (9A) of the DU Act states that the university can only permit its colleges to conduct “courses of study in the Faculties of Medicine, Technology, Music or Fine Arts, as autonomous colleges”. This Clause means that for anything apart from the above-mentioned disciplines, the law has to be amended.
While a meeting was scheduled to take place on May 24, Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar was forced to call for an urgent meeting on May 22 following protests by students and teachers. The meeting included representatives of Hindu College and St Stephen’s College. In the meeting, representatives stated that the process to apply for autonomy was initiated by St Stephens without holding consultations with stakeholders. The teachers present at the meeting said that this move by the college is towards the privatisation of education.
It was the representatives of the Hindu College present in the meeting who pointed out the fact that no institution affiliated to DU can become autonomous unless the university Act is amended. The HRD ministry, in the wake of these legal infirmities, has asked the University Grants Commission to seek legal action but dropped it during the meeting held on May 24.