India’s Top non-autonomous colleges 2022-23

EducationWorld April 2022 | Cover Story Magazine

Although several colleges affiliated with Delhi University are the most popular and preferred countrywide and eminently eligible, they haven’t been conferred autonomous status and are tied to the apron strings of DU

St. Stephen’s, Delhi principal John Varghese

St. Stephen’s, Delhi principal John Varghese

It’s a measure of the bewilder­ingly complex and irrational higher education regulatory system devised by post-indepen­dence India’s omniscient neta-babu brotherhood under the cloak of socialism, that while 871 (of 45,000) colleges countrywide have been conferred autonomous status, India’s most popular undergrad colleges — St. Stephen’s, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Miranda House — are non-autonomous institutions of ter­tiary education. Despite their proven track records of academic excellence, these among other colleges, provid­ing infinitely superior education have been denied autonomy for decades. They are still tied to the apron strings of Delhi University and denied the freedom of syllabus design, to intro­duce new study programmes, recruit faculty and exercise the academic and operational flexibility awarded to less distinguished private and govern­ment autonomous colleges.

Paradoxically, some private non-autonomous undergrad colleges — especially of Delhi University — are the favourites of higher secondary school-leavers countrywide and attract a hailstorm of admission ap­plications. Consequently for supply-demand reasons, they are obliged to prescribe sky-high cut-off grades in class XII board exams, and admit only a small minority of applicants with the highest scores in board exams. A substantial number among them were established over a cen­tury ago and have devised excellent teaching-learning and administrative systems.

The reasons why India’s most respected and preferred undergrad colleges — the high parameter rat­ings and total scores awarded by EW sample respondents to St. Stephen’s, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Lady Shri Ram, by far outstrips the totals of top-ranked private autonomous Arts, Science and Commerce (ASC) colleges — is a matter of conjecture and speculation because academics are reluctant to air their views on the subject. However, it’s pertinent to note that the majority of top-ranked non-autonomous ASC colleges are affiliated with Delhi University.

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