The University Grants Commission (UGC) recently conferred autonomy status to MG Science College and HL Commerce College in Ahmedabad.
With these two additions, the city has now three colleges flaunting this prestigious tag, the third one being St Xavier’s College, which has been autonomous for almost a decade
However, the Gujarat Common Admission Portal (GCAP) initiative by the Gujarat education department may undermine the autonomy of these colleges, feels a section of academicians.
Despite their autonomous status, which allows these colleges to conduct admissions independently under UGC norms, they are now required to register with GCAP. This move jeopardises their autonomy, particularly in selecting meritorious students for the academic year 2024-25.
The three autonomous colleges together offer over 3,000 seats in grant-in-aid courses, with additional seats available in St Xavier’s self-financed courses.
“All admissions, whether in government, grant-in-aid, or self-finance courses and colleges, will now be done solely through GCAP,” stated a college principal, expressing concerns about their diminishing autonomy.
The education department is fervently working on GCAP, aiming to centralise admissions for undergraduate, postgraduate, and other courses for the 2024-25 academic year.
All colleges affiliated with the state’s 16 public universities will have to submit details of their student intake and course offerings to the education department for inclusion in the GCAP portal.
This directive also impacts seven autonomous colleges across various public universities in Gujarat. Despite their freedom to conduct their admissions, they may lose this privilege due to the education department’s new policy.
A principal of one of the affected autonomous colleges expressed concern, stating, “Being autonomous means we can admit students based on merit, considering our college’s preferences, and enjoy academic freedoms like designing our own curriculum and starting new courses. But with GCAP, we’re unsure if our efforts to achieve UGC’s autonomous status will make a difference if the government controls admissions.”
While some see GCAP as a way to alleviate marketing efforts for their courses, concerns remain about the inability to admit more students to address the exodus of high-achieving students to medical, para-medical, and engineering courses.
“Autonomous colleges, if allowed admission liberty, could manage these issues more effectively than under a uniform admission policy,” an academic observed.
Sources close to the matter revealed that these autonomous colleges, affiliated with Gujarat University, have made representations to the authorities. They’ve been instructed to list their courses and student intake on the portal and possibly admit students through it, as directed by the education department.
Gujarat University Vice Chancellor Nirja Gupta said, “We’re seeking clarity from the education department. While these colleges are autonomous, they still receive salary grants from the state government and need to list their course and student details to prevent future confusion. A decision will be taken once the education department provides further guidance.”