SPIT turning autonomous; students wary but enthusiastic

Sardar Patel Institute of Technology (SPIT), Mumbai is most likely to become an autonomous institute from 2016. The institute which was started in 2005, is now going to follow its once parent institute, Sardar Patel College of Engineering, in terms of academic autonomy. The principal and faculty expect to fine tune the academic syllabus and credit allocation after achieving autonomy. Students on the other hand are unsure as to how change in credit allocations will pan out for them. There are quite a few aspects to consider while deciding whether autonomy is a welcome change or not.

According to Dr. Prachi Gharpure, Principal of SPIT, “Our intention is to adjust credits in such a way that we can introduce extra-academic subjects like arts, music, etc in the syllabus.” Students are looking forward to see some semantics between SPIT and the IITs wherein the latter provide off-beat courses to students for overall development. “We have a lot of extra-curricular activities like robotics, writing, designing, etc but none of them are credited which does not make them a compulsion. Hence, introducing credits in these fields is a welcome move,” says Himanshu Sardar, a first year student at SPIT.  However, another student from SPIT, who did not want to be named, feels, “We are not kids who need to be spoon fed with activities for development. Introducing autonomy under the blanket of overall development is not right.”

Besides, students feel that the current university system does not leave them with adequate time to pursue internships after the semester ends. When the college placement cell receives internship offers from top telecommunication companies, students usually aren’t able to grab such opportunities. ” Companies who once came in with internship offers were turned down due to lack of takers among students. These companies then refuse to visit the college for final year placements which inturn reduces the institute’s placement records every year,” says Advait Bhadra, a fourth year student of SPIT.

The faculty is also of the opinion that the syllabus in Mumbai University is obsolete and autonomy will allow the institute to have a dynamic curriculum. “We can bring in applied subjects like product designing, architecture,  which are not parts of the core syllabus, but are considered an integral field of knowledge by manufacturing companies,” says Dr. Gharpure.

On the other hand, some colleges in Mumbai which do not enjoy autonomy are not too keen on taking the turn either. Prof G.T. Thampi, Principal of Thadomal Shahani Engineering College, Mumbai says, “I strongly oppose autonomy since it leaves too much freedom in the hands of faculty in designing the curriculum. Professors tend to teach only a part of the core curriculum and leave out difficult but important portions which may impact negatively on the students’ subject knowledge.” Shamik Saju, a student from TSEC says, “unlike what many students may feel, autonomous colleges may put added burden on students by making unrelated subjects compulsory and altering exam patterns in a way that leave students with very little time to explore other options independently.”

Thus, students from SPIT are more or less enthusiastic about the autonomy move, but are a little wary as to how it will impact their career in terms of new learning and placements.