At least six Jesuit colleges offering undergraduate courses across the country will be upgraded to universities modelled on St Xavier’s University within the next year.

The main objective behind upgrading the colleges is to ensure more academic freedom to the institutes apart from creating avenues for expansion of research.

Father Felix Raj, vice-chancellor, St Xavier’s University, said.

The Jesuits now run close to 80 institutions of higher education in the country, most of which are “outstanding and renowned”.

“Many of our institutions are outstanding and renowned. We (Jesuits) now want to strengthen research activities at these institutions,” Felix Raj said. “The university status will ensure the freedom to emphasise on researches activities.”

The upgrade plan was discussed at the conference of the heads of 85 Jesuit-run institutions in South Asia that was organised at St Xavier’s College Calcutta during Durga Puja, he said.

St Joseph’s College Bangalore, St Aloysius College Mangalore, St Xavier’s College Patna, St Xavier’s College Jaipur, St Joseph’s College Tiruchirapally and Loyola College Chennai are the six institutes to be upgraded.

Many of these colleges, affiliated to different universities, are keen on introducing new courses. “Universities enjoy more academic freedom to introduce new courses. The upgrade will enable the institutes to implement their plans on running new courses,” he said.

The six institutes have set 2020 the target to complete the process of setting up universities, he said.

The Jesuits run two universities at present — Xavier University Bhubaneswar and St Xavier’s University in New Town, Calcutta. They run 54 undergraduate colleges in the country.

St Xavier’s University was set up in 2017.

The six institutes are now negotiating with the state governments and the Centre for the upgrade.

In Bengal, there are six Jesuit-run colleges, including St Xavier’s College on Park Street.

The college was affiliated to Calcutta University but now it is autonomous, because of which it enjoys complete academic, administrative and financial freedom.

But degrees are awarded jointly by St Xavier’s College and Calcutta University.

The other five colleges are affiliated to various state-aided universities. All the six will be gradually affiliated to St Xavier’s University, an official said.

It will take around five to six years to bring them within the university’s purview.

Source: The Telegraph