The University Grants Commission on Tuesday announced that it will grant full autonomy to 62 institutes of higher education, including five central and 21 state universities.

Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said universities with a rating over 3.6 from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council will be granted autonomy. This is “in line with the vision of PM Narendra Modi towards liberalised regulatory regime”, he said on Twitter.

The central universities that will be granted autonomy are Jawaharlal Nehru University, Aligarh Muslim University, Banaras Hindu University, the University of Hyderabad and the English and Foreign Languages University in Telangana. Some of the state universities in the list are Jadavpur University, Andhra University, Algappa University, National University of Law, Utkal University, and Osmania University.

These universities will remain under the purview of the UGC but will not have to seek permission to start new courses, programmes and departments, Javadekar explained. They will also have the freedom to open off-campus centres and research parks, admit foreign students and appoint faculty members from other countries.

The minister said these universities can even pay their faculty members more than what the Seventh Pay Commission recommends, which would allow them to attract the best teachers. Javadekar also said that these autonomous universities will be free to sign academic collaborations with the world’s top universities.

The UGC will also grant autonomy to eight colleges. These, Javadekar said, will be able to prepare their own syllabi, conduct their own examinations and declare the results. However, a university will have to certify the degree they hand out.

Meanwhile, Academics for Action and Development – an organisation that represents teachers of Delhi University – criticised the government’s decision and said it was an attempt to privatise public-funded institutes.

“In the garb of this autonomy and freedom to open new departments and courses in self-financing mode, the present courses run by the universities are going to be decimated,” the organisation said. “The freedom is, in fact, a trap for self-destruction.”

The organisation believes that the government’s decision will deprive students from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes communities of quality education. “What is most unfortunate is that no discussions were held with the stakeholders, teachers, non-teaching staff and students who will be adversely affected by the government’s brazen agenda of privatisation of the higher education,” it said.