The pinnacle of evolution for a college is its transformation into a university. Is autonomy the first step towards this aim? Professor PB Sharma, Vice Chancellor of Delhi Technological University (DTU), tells EDU why autonomy matters
The concept of autonomous colleges must be encouraged. Autonomy holds the key for excellence in education and research and for industry relevant innovations. Autonomous colleges are conferred the vital freedom to excel with the prescribed legislative structure providing sufficient checks and balances to ensure accountability and align the framework of autonomy for excellence, relevance and social responsibility.
The need for autonomy arises from the fact that affiliating universities in India are fat (large), both in terms of the large number of affiliated colleges and their own multi-faculties. Also, it is an open secret that large affiliating universities in the country are riddled with campus politics and hyperactive teacher and staff associations.
The university administration remains engaged in fire-fighting and has little or no time for educational innovations for the promotion of quality, relevance and excellence. Not surprisingly, such universities exhibit a lack of focused attention on professional education and world quality research in areas of high relevance to the country. So, contrary to being averse to making select colleges autonomous, the parent university should go all out to promote the concept as autonomous colleges become a source of pride for it, for the innovations they bring in educational programmes, examination reforms and for promoting research and innovations in thrust areas. If the college goes on to seed a university, what greater honour could there be for the parent university?
The Government of Delhi granted DCE, an affiliated college of Delhi University, university status through the Delhi Act 6 of 2009. Since then, DTU has made good progress, launching new undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in emerging industry-relevant areas of engineering and technologysuch as nano-science and technology, VLSI design & embedded systems, microwave and optical communication, etc. It has also introduced innovations in programme curricula. Student placements are progressing well, new faculty has been taken on, the campus has been made eco-friendly, the industry interface has been strengthened and collaborations for R&D have been entered into with leading R&D organisations and world-class universities in Indian and abroad. Student creativity and engagement in cutting edge research is at an all time high. Indias first solar car designed and developed by DTU students, Solaris, participated in the World Solar Challenge 2011 in Australia. DTUs Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has earned a pride place among top three in a global competition organised by AUVSI at Maryland, USA in June 2012. The next milestone is to compete at the university level, to transform DTU into a world class university.