Reform 101: On higher education(Hindu summary-30th June 2018)

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Reform 101: On higher education

The Hindu

Context:

Higher education is challenged today by fast-paced technological changes affecting the economy and the need to create a workforce that has the requisite skills.

GoI proposal:

Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), the proposed successor body to the University Grants Commission.

Facts to be known:

  • There were 864 recognized universities and 40,026 colleges in the country in 2016-17, while the gross enrollment ratio of students was only about 26%.
  • There were only 20 universities and 500 colleges at the time of Independence.

Draft provisions of HECI:

  1. Center’s decision to shift grant-giving powers for higher education institutions to the Ministry of Human Resource Development or a separate body.
  2. Maintaining a balance on allocation of funds and ensuring transparency will now depend on the proposed advisory council to the HECI.
  3. States are represented on the advisory council, giving it a federal character, although it is the Centre that will have the final say in all matters, not even the apex HECI.
  4. The new commission to be established through an Act will not have grant-making authority, will promote reduced inspection system and will focus more on quality outcome at universities and colleges.
  5. The new Act will separate grant-making functions, end inspection raj, focus on academic quality and empower the new commission to enforce quality issues.
  6. University and college managements found wanting and violating penalty imposed by the commission “shall be liable for prosecution as per procedure laid down under the Criminal Procedure Code and may be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to three years”.
  7. It will specify learning outcomes for colleges and universities, prescribe teaching, assessment, research standards.

Challenges in front of HECI:

  • Need resolution is the future role of multiple regulatory bodies that currently exist for engineering, medicine and law; the Yash Pal Committee had recommended that they should be brought under the ambit of a single commission.
  • There is a case to include other professional education streams as well, including architecture and nursing.

What to be done?

The Centre should give sufficient time to academia, the teaching community and society at large to submit considered opinions on the draft proposals.

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