St Stephen’s College teachers write to HRD ministry over autonomy

Forty-two of 58 permanent teachers of Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College have written to the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the HRD Ministry, protesting against the varsity’s decision to apply for autonomy.

Stating that the decision was made in a hurried manner, without consulting stakeholders, the teachers urged the commission to reconsider the application.

While the first letter was sent on April 16, another was written on April 28 by the staff association, which passed a resolution against the decision.

During a governing body emergent meeting on February 25, 2017, the college, in-principle, decided to apply for autonomy. Opposing the move, the teachers and students said it would let the college start self-financing courses; change service conditions; and give it the autonomy to increase fees. Principal John Varghese had promised the staff council that the application will be sent only after consultation.

The teachers wrote, “As a small constituent college of DU, the college has benefited tremendously from the large pool of academic expertise of the faculty in University departments as well as other colleges, e.g. in terms of framing high-quality syllabi and conducting credible examinations… Separation from the larger parent body would make the college an unviable academic unit, and lead to lowering of academic standards.”

A senior teacher told The Indian Express, “This is a sinister design being taken by few members to exploit the brand of St Stephen’s. There are few individuals from the corporate world who have promised the Church a lot of things… that is why the administration is in a hurry.”

The principal and the chairman of the governing body, Bishop Warris Masih, did not respond to calls and messages.