Union human resource development minister, Prakash Javadekar, on Tuesday announced that 52 higher educational institutions — five central universities, 21 state universities, 24 deemed universities and two private universities — will get autonomy, thanks to their efforts at maintaining high standards over the year. Expanding on the rationale behind the decision, Mr Javadekar said the government is striving to introduce a liberalised regime in the education sector with emphasis on linking autonomy with quality. However, this step — a giant leap by India’s education sector standards — does not mean that the universities will be out of the ambit of the University Grants Commission, the higher education regulator, but will now have the freedom to start new courses, decide on the fee structure, set-up off campus centres, start skill development courses, research parks and new academic programmes. They will also have the freedom to hire foreign faculty, enrol foreign students, give incentive-based emoluments to the faculty, enter into academic collaborations and run distance-learning programmes. The policy of granting autonomy has been in the works since last year when the HRD minister said that institutions would be freed from the government’s “micro-management” just as the Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2017, has provided the management institutes autonomy to function.