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Nalsar, NLU Delhi win full autonomy status from UGC • But what does it actually mean? VCs explain

Deciding grades
Deciding grades

NLU Delhi and Nalsar Hyderabad were granted so-called “Class I” autonomy by the University Grants Commission (UGC), which also granted “Class II” autonomy to NLUO Cuttack and RGNUL Patiala among 62 higher education institutes that have been awarded the status, as reported by PTI.

The “Class I” status was conferred on universities and colleges with a National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) grade point of above 3.5 and the “Class II” status was given to those with a NAAC grade point of above 3.

Symbiosis International, Pune, which also has a law school that is SLS Pune, was also rated Class I, with a score of 3.58, according to PIB.

At least two institutions offering post-graduate legal education, were also ranked: Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) was rated Class I with 3.89 and Indian Law Institute, Class II with a score of 3.35.

“Key indicators”, delineated into “metrics” or NAAC’s assessment units, are identified under the seven heads of curriculum, teaching and evaluation, research and innovation, infrastructure and learning resources, student support and progression, governance, leadership and management and institutional values and best practices, according to the NAAC website.

Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar explained in a press release yesterday:

these universities will remain within the ambit of UGC but will have the freedom to start new courses, off campus centers, skill development courses, research parks and any other new academic programs. They will also have the freedom to hire foreign faculty, enroll foreign students, give incentive based emoluments to the faculty, enter into academic collaborations and run open distance learning programmes.

NLU Delhi is already funded generously by the Delhi government, but the picture was slightly bleaker at Nalsar Hyderabad, which struggles with funding and whose VC Prof Faizan Mustafa told us: “It doesn’t help much because there is no funding for NLUs from the UGC.”

Nalsar: Not so useful

Mustafa said that even without requiring the UGC’s permission to hire foreign faculty, universities need permission from the external affairs ministry, which is based on proving that equivalent expertise is not already available in India, even after which foreign faculty needs to be hired at higher salaries.

“The UGC should’ve given autonomy to decide degree nomenclature, duration of courses, subjects they want to keep as mandatory and optional which is still not there,” he commented.

“Also, unless I have autonomy from the BCI also it is not going to drastically improve my situation,” Mustafa added.

NLU Delhi: Nice to have

NLU Delhi vice chancellor Ranbir Singh commented: “The most important aspect, I feel, is that [now autonomous NLUs] can give incentive-based emoluments to the faculty and are at a liberty to give a higher pay scale if they so desire. I can promote faculty based on research output, for example.”

Singh said that the autonomous status would now also enable NLU Delhi to start its academic centers around the city after applying to the Bar Council of India (BCI) for inspection, without special permission from the UGC.

JGLS: Most amazing achievement ever

dc:JGLS Sonepat parent institution JGU won Class II status, with a score of 3.26, alongside other institutions that also offer law degrees, such as ICFAI Hyderabad, KIIT Odisha, and KLE Belgaum.

JGLS VC Prof C Raj Kumar in a press release dubbed the status as “the most amazing achievement of JGU since its inception on 30 September 2009”.

“There are more than 950 universities, 40,000 colleges and 11,000 stand-alone institutions in India and only a small group of 60 institutions in India have been given this status and recognition. OP Jindal Global University is one of only two private universities in India, which have been granted the status of autonomy. There are over 300 private universities in India and among them only 2 have been given this special status. This alone is a significant achievement for JGU,” he stated in the release.

“JGU is also the first and only private university in Haryana to have been given the graded autonomy status among the nearly 25 private universities that have been established by the Government of Haryana,” he added.

Others

NUJS Kolkata, led by its recently very controversial VC Prof Ishwara Bhat, did not apply for the NAAC accreditation as we had reported late last year.

It is understood from sources that NLSIU Bangalore also did not apply for the accreditation. NLSIU VC Prof Venkat Rao was not reachable for comment.

In January 2016, we had reported that NLUO Cuttack’s report submitted to the NAAC, had plagiarised two pages in its report entirely from NLU Delhi’s report.

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