This letter is being written from our editorial office in Bangalore on the tenth day after the March 25 national lockdown proclaimed by the Central government following the global outbreak of the novel Coronavirus aka, Covid-19 pandemic. During this period of disruption and enforced idleness, the EW team has been fully engaged in putting this issue together, despite unprecedented logistics and infrastructure problems. We have a proud record to maintain. EducationWorld has been published uninterruptedly every month since November 1999, and we are determined to maintain this record.
In a timely Covid-19: Challenge and Response report, we present the initiatives of several education institutions and edtech companies that have speedily responded to the challenge of maintaining continuity of teaching learning in schools and higher ed institutions across the country. Moreover on a wider canvas, your editor with over four decades of experience in law, industry and business and education journalism suggests ways and means to mitigate the Covid-19 crisis pain of 150 million low-income households. Check out our editorials in this issue.
Re our cover story, how many readers are aware that 747 of India’s 39,931 arts science and commerce (ASC) undergrad colleges are autonomous institutions conferred wide academic, administrative and financial freedom? Under India’s complex and complicated higher education regulatory system, an overwhelming majority of the country’s ASC colleges are nonautonomous. However, provisions of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, empower the commission to award autonomous status to high performance colleges that are at least ten years old and have been awarded A grade certification by the Bangalore-based National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). Clearly autonomous colleges — private and government — are a class apart and above. Therefore they need to be — and are — ranked separately in this issue of EducationWorld.
Unsurprisingly, the waters of post-independence Soviet-inspired India’ higher education system are murky. Some of the country’s most respected undergrad colleges including St. Stephen’s, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Lady Shri Ram, Miranda House which should have been conferred autonomy decades ago, are not autonomous. They are still tied to the apron strings of their affiliating universities which in turn, are strictly controlled by UGC. Like I said, it’s complicated.
Be that as it may, being made aware by Mumbai-based educationist Balkishan Sharma, director of the Nest Academy, that private autonomous and (totally unsung) government autonomous colleges are a class apart and above, we have ranked them separately in the EW India Higher Education Rankings 2020-21, Moreover we have also ranked the Top 100 nonautonomous ASC and Top 100 private engineering colleges separately to give the public and school-leaving students in particular, a clear picture of the status and standing of India’s Top 500 colleges. In the next (May) issue the country’s Top 100 private and government universities and B-schools will be rated and ranked.