The Maharashtra government has come up with new guidelines for the formation of cluster universities in the state. Now, even more than five colleges in nearby vicinity can form a cluster university. The minimum requirement is two colleges coming together.
Chandrakant Patil, Higher and Technical Education Minister of the state explained the guidelines at a workshop held earlier in the state. “The premier college should be of autonomous status for at least five years or the college should have a minimum 3.25 cumulative grade point average (CGPA) rating of National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) or equivalent National Board of Accreditation (NBA) score or 50 per cent of the total courses should be accredited by NBA," he said.
While there are already three cluster universities in the state, namely, Dr. Homi Bhabha State University, Mumbai, Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate University, Mumbai and Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil, Satara, many others have shown willingness to be a part of this initiative as well.
"The decision on being part of a cluster university depends on the management but the initiative is excellent," said Ashish Uzghare, Vice Principal of Wilson College. Cluster universities aim to reduce the burden on the state universities while at the same time providing more opportunities to the students.
Commenting on the same, Kishore Peshori, Principal of Shrimati Mithibai Motiram Kundnani College of Commerce & Economics, commonly known as M. M. K. College said, "There are many colleges that are within one area and clubbing them together means that students will have universities at their doorstep." He also added that he is definitely interested in the idea, since MMK college is already autonomous as well.
Dr.Rajendra Shinde, principal of St. Xavier's College, Mumbai also talked about the possibility of pushing for a cluster university, combining the four Jesuits colleges earlier in October and said that, "the college would now like to walk in the footsteps of Homi Bhabha University, Sydenham University and Elphinstone University."
Benefits of cluster universities
HR College of Commerce and Economics, KC college and Bombay Teachers Training College are part of Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate Board in Mumbai. These three are again under the cluster university programme. Prof. Dr. Pooja Ramchandani, principal of HR College of Commerce and Economics explained the benefit that the students are getting from being part of the cluster university saying that it makes the students more skilled. "It gives my students a chance to interact with students of other colleges which enables them to learn more about different arenas as well."
It is also mandatory for cluster universities to set up an incubation center and a joint deposit account of Rs 5 crore with the Directorate of Higher Education.