The Centre government on Wednesday announced to replace the apex higher education regulator body University Grants Commission (UGC) with the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) by canceling the UGC Act, 1951.
He said the draft act is in accordance with the commitment of the government to reform the regulatory mechanism to provide “more autonomy” to higher education institutes to promote excellence and facilitate holistic growth of the education system.
According to the draft, the proposed Higher Education Commission of India would focus on academic matters and monetary grants would be under the purview of the ministry.
Presently, The University Grants Commission (UGC), provides financial assistance to eligible colleges, which came into existence in 1953.
The new Act will be called the Higher Education Commission of India Act, 2018.
The HRD Ministry has asked for comments and suggestions from educationists, public and other stakeholders before 5 pm on July 7 on the draft, which has been released on its website.
The new Act is likely to be tabled in the Parliament during the monsoon session.
The government has decided to strengthen the higher education regulator as it was felt that the current commission remains preoccupied with disbursing funds to institutes and is unable to concentrate on other key areas such as mentoring institutes, focusing on research to be undertaken and other quality measures required in the sector.
The Centre is eyeing a major push to improve the infrastructure at higher education institutions across the country. Union Human Resource Development Minister PrakashJavadekar has said the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) would make Rs 1 lakh crore available to institutions over the next four years for infrastructure upgrades.
The availability of funds would be implemented under the Centre’s goal to plug infrastructural holes and improve systems in the higher education Top MBA Colleges in Delhi sector by 2022, Javadekar said. The funding that HEFA is meant to facilitate for higher education institutions would be over and above their budgetary allocations.
The NarendraModi government had announced the establishment of HEFA in the 2016-17 Union Budget. The goal of the agency is to function as a not-for-profit body that would leverage funds from the market and supplement them with donations and CSR funds. HEFA would make these funds available to institutions as interest-free loans. It has been recognised as a non-banking financial institution (NBFC) by the Reserve Bank of India.
Javadekar’s comments on the HEFA push were part of a press conference he addressed on New Delhi on Monday on the achievements of the Union HRD Ministry over the past four years.
Javadekar claimed that the Ministry had kicked off 33 new initiatives to strengthen the education sector. He said 141 universities, 14 Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), seven Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and one National Institute of Technology (NIT) have been opened during the last four years, when the NarendraModi government has been in power. He also said 103 new KendriyaVidyalayas and 62 new NavodayaVidyalayas have been opened in the last four years.
Javadekarsummarised another major initiative, the National Assessment Survey, in which the data was gathered on about 37 lakh students. Terming it the world’s largest such exercise, he said assessments had been carried out of 22 lakh students of Classes III, V and VIII, and 15 lakh Class X students. The educational profile of each district in the country has also been collated and shared with the respective Chief Ministers, MPs and other relevant officials, Javadekar said.