Prime schools fall in need of land rule for college standing

MUMBAI: The state government is advocating university status for autonomous colleges, but many prominent ones may not fit the bill. The land requirement of 15 acres in megacities could prove to be a major hindrance for such colleges to upgrade to universities, especially in Mumbai. Most colleges in the city don‘t have land over 3-4 acres. The state has set April 20 as the deadline for colleges to send their proposals.
The guidelines laid down under the (RUSA) states that “land already available with a college must be enough to support additional enrollments and capacity (at least 15 acres in mega cities, 20 acres in metros and 25 elsewhere)”.

It also states that colleges must have an existing enrolment of 2,000 and the proposed total enrolment must be 4,000 “to sustain the institution as a university”.

St Xavier‘s, Mithibai, Ruia and have shown a keen interest in the upgrade scheme. But the campuses of most fall way short of the area requirement. “Most Mumbai colleges do not fulfill the land requirement criterion and are therefore ineligible to apply. Autonomous colleges in other cities like Pune and Nagpur may qualify,” said TA Shiware, chairman, association of non-government colleges. “Also, some colleges may not want to leave the parent university for its brand value.”

Former vice-chancellor of , Rajan Welukar, said the central government needs to have a relook at the criteria and relax some norms for cities like Mumbai. “This progressive scheme should have been allowed a long time ago for quality improvement. But the government should relax land norms and also extend the deadline. It takes time to submit a good, detailed proposal,” said Welukar.

A government official said the state is in talks with the and the Centre to seek relaxation on land norms. “It is a central policy, so we may not be able to take decisions. We are negotiating some of the parameters and are hoping to get a positive response,” said the official. A senior official said he would look into the matter, though he added that it is “unlikely that any condition could be relaxed at this stage”.

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