MGU University Charges Autonomous Colleges a Steep Price to Approve its Program

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Autonomous colleges affiliated with Mahatma Gandhi University (MGU) are facing a financial burden due to the university’s policy of charging hefty fees for approving course syllabi under the new four-year degree program. While teachers have the freedom to design courses, MGU mandates that autonomous colleges pay Rs. 60,780 per undergraduate course, even if they adopt the university’s pre-approved syllabus.

This practice of levying syllabus approval fees is unique to MGU among Kerala’s universities. College authorities cite an October 2023 meeting chaired by Minister R. Bindu, where it was proposed that universities should not charge such fees. Fr. Jose John, Secretary of the Autonomous College Consortium, stated that a general body meeting will convene in Kochi on Friday to discuss the issue. If MGU does not withdraw the decision, legal action may be pursued.

However, MGU Vice Chancellor Dr. C.T. Aravindakumar maintains there is no conflict with the colleges, and their concerns will be addressed sympathetically. Nonetheless, the syllabus approval fee matter will be taken up with MGU authorities and the state education ministry for resolution.

Autonomous colleges have the freedom to formulate their own courses, syllabi, and evaluation systems without being bound by the university’s prescribed curriculum. This allows them to design innovative and industry-relevant programs tailored to their strengths. However, the courses still need the university’s approval as the degrees are awarded by the university.

MGU is charging Rs. 60,780 per course for approving undergraduate syllabi designed by autonomous colleges. This hefty fee applies even if the colleges adopt MGU’s syllabus verbatim instead of designing their own. No other university in Kerala levies such steep syllabus approval fees on its autonomous colleges.

This fee structure puts significant financial strain on autonomous colleges, especially those running multiple specialized UG programs. It defeats the purpose of autonomous status by discouraging colleges from exercising course designing freedom. Colleges argue the fees go against the government’s policy decision conveyed at the October 2023 meeting.

The consortium, led by Fr. Jose John, is convening on Friday to discuss a plan of action.

If MGU does not repeal the fee, they may explore legal remedies like filing a writ petition in court. They aim to take up the matter with the state education ministry as well to resolve the impasse. While MGU maintains it will address concerns sympathetically, the fee continues to be a major bone of contention between the university and its autonomous college affiliates.

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