Within the category of government-promoted higher ed institutions, government autonomous colleges enjoy special standing by virtue of their autonomous status for which a minimum NAAC ‘A’ Grade rating is a condition precedent. Here are India’s best government autonomous colleges 2021-22.
India hosts 39,931 colleges providing mainly undergraduate education. Of them, a mere 827 colleges have been awarded autonomous status (March 31, 2021) i.e, academic autonomy by the Delhi-based University Grants Commission (UGC).
While the overwhelming majority are tied to the apron strings of their affiliating government universities, autonomous colleges are permitted to design their own syllabuses and curriculums; introduce new courses; evolve independent performance evaluation systems, conduct examinations and notify results. And perhaps most important, the name of the college is inscribed on the degree certificate awarded by the affiliating university. This latter privilege enables potential employers to distinguish job applicants graduating from premier colleges from others.
UGC has set stringent conditions — uniformly applicable to private and government promoted colleges — for awarding prized autonomous status. Applicant colleges must be of more than ten years vintage and “accredited by either NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) with minimum ‘A’ Grade, or by NBA (National Board of Accreditation of the All India Council for Technical Education) for at least three programme(s) or be awarded autonomy by a corresponding accreditation grade/score from a UGC empanelled accreditation agency”. Of the 827 colleges conferred autonomous status by UGC, 720 are privately promoted and 107 in the (state) government sector.
Last year, we divided the broad category of arts, science and commerce (ASC) colleges into three sub-categories: private autonomous, government autonomous (as classified by UGC) and 100 highly-reputed non-autonomous colleges, and ranked them separately inter se. This year too, in the EducationWorld Top 500 Arts, Science & Commerce Colleges Rankings 2021-22, ASC colleges are ranked in their separate and distinct sub-categories to provide level playing fields.
To compile the 2021-22 EW league tables of India’s best private and government autonomous (as well as Top 100 non-autonomous) colleges, representatives of the well-known Delhi-based Centre for Forecasting & Research Pvt. Ltd (C fore) interviewed 3,956 sample respondents comprising 1,823 college/university faculty and 2,133 final year college students, and persuaded them to rate sufficiently well-known colleges on five parameters of tertiary education excellence, viz, competence of faculty, faculty welfare and development, curriculum and pedagogy (digital readiness), industry placement record, infrastructure and quality of leadership/ governance. Low-profile institutions rated by less than 25 respondents are not ranked.
It’s pertinent to note that there is a wide perceived quality gap between private and government autonomous colleges promoted and managed by cash-strapped state governments. This gap is evident in the total scores awarded by this year’s sample respondents to top-ranked colleges in the two categories.
While St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai is ranked India’s #1 private autonomous college with a total score of 618, the top-ranked government autonomous college — Government Science College, Nrupathunga Road, Bengaluru — has an aggregate score of 539, a difference of almost 80 points.
Yet within the category of government-promoted higher education institutions, government autonomous colleges enjoy special standing and privilege by virtue of their autonomous status for which a minimum NAAC ‘A’ Grade rating is a condition precedent.
In this second edition of the EducationWorld government autonomous colleges rankings league table, there is a major rearrangement of seats at top table. The Government Science College, Nrupathunga Road, Bengaluru (GSC-NR) has risen in public esteem to be ranked India #1 in 2021-22 (#4 in 2020-21), while Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, ranked #1 last year, has lost ground and is ranked #2. Government Degree College for Women, Begumpet (Hyderabad), ranked #8 in 2020-21, is promoted to #3 this year.
Promoted in 1921 by the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore, GSC-NR is awarded top scores on the parameters of curriculum and pedagogy (digital readiness) and leadership by this year’s informed sample respondents.
“We thank your survey respondents for rating us India’s #1 government autonomous college. I credit this ranking to our well-qualified and experienced faculty who made great efforts to provide online and offline classes to students during the pandemic. In the last cycle of NAAC accreditation the college was awarded A+ grade with 3.54 CGPA,” says Dr. M. Krishnappa, senior librarian of GSC-NR, who was directed by the college principal Dr. Nataraja to respond to EducationWorld’s emailed questionnaire. Currently, GSC-NR has an enrolment of 2,348 students mentored by 108 permanent and 83 guest faculty.
Dr. G. Sunitha, principal of the Government Degree College for Women (GDCW), Begumpet, Hyderabad (estb.1971) is more forthcoming and appreciative of EducationWorld’s rankings of the best among usually ignored government autonomous colleges, and especially pleased with the promotion of GDCW from #8 in 2020-21 to #3 this year.
“I am delighted that we are ranked among the country’s Top 3 government autonomous colleges. During the past five decades the college has grown from strength to strength and currently provides high-quality undergrad and postgraduate education to 3,676 women students. Our Top 3 ranking is a great morale booster for us in the pandemic year during which our faculty went all out to ensure the learning continuity of students. Our teachers created and uploaded video lessons on YouTube and used LMS Google Classroom for teaching and evaluation. We also introduced 21 new undergrad and five postgraduate courses during the academic year 2020-21. Recently the government has sanctioned establishment of a research centre at our college and we are excited about this boosting our industry connect,” says Sunitha.
Beyond the Top 3, there is considerable churn in this year’s league table of India’s top-ranked government autonomous colleges. Sarojini Naidu Government Girls P.G. College, Bhopal, ranked #4 (#2 in 2020-21) and Government (Model Autonomous) Holkar Science College, Indore at #5 (3) have ceded ground. Kanchi Mamunivar Centre for Postgraduate Studies, Puducherry has debuted at #5 even as Government Mankunwar Bai Arts & Commerce Autonomous College for Women, Napier Town, Jabalpur has retained its #6 rank.
Government Arts College, Hassan (Karnataka, #13 in 2020- 21) and Mata Jija Bai Govt. Girls P.G. College, Indore (7) are tied at #7, Dr. V.S. Krishna Govt. Degree & P.G. College, Visakhapatnam, ranked #8 (5), Government Maharani Laxmi Bai Girls P. G. Autonomous College, Bhopal #9 (8) and Government Arts & Science College, Karwar (Karnataka) at #10 complete the Top 10 table.
Further down the 87-strong league table of India’s top-ranked government ASC autonomous colleges, several colleges have debuted. Among the Top 30 debutantes are: Presidency College, Chennai at #14, Yuvaraja’s College, Mysuru #20, Kohima Science College, Jotsoma (Nagaland) #23, Maharani’s Science College for Women, Mysuru #26.
Another highlight of this year’s rankings of government autonomous colleges is that institutions in only 14 of the country’s 29 states are represented in the 87-strong league table. The states with the maximum number of government autonomous colleges are: Madhya Pradesh (21), Odisha (14), Karnataka (10) and Andhra Pradesh (10). Surprisingly the populous states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh don’t have even one government autonomous college sufficiently well-reputed for inclusion in the EW 2021-22 league of India’s best government autonomous colleges.