NEW DELHI: The function of disbursing grants to universities and colleges will be vested in an independent entity as per the new Higher Education Commission of India draft Bill, Union Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar clarified on Monday.
The clarification comes following criticism that the granting authority will now go directly to the HRD ministry. At present, the University Grants Commission exercises the power.
While replying to a starred question in the Lok Sabha, Javadekar said that the ministry had prepared the draft HECI bill to repeal the UGC Act, 1956 for promoting the quality of academic instruction, maintenance of academic standards and the autonomy of higher education institutions.
He added that the grant disbursal function was proposed to be vested in an entity which works transparently, has a merit-based approach, and works through an ICT-enabled platform.
While replying to a supplementary question, the Union minister said that the new entity would not be a bureaucratic body and will focus only on quality education and maintenance of education standards.
He said that earlier the UGC played the role of a regulator as well as a grant disbursing authority, but now there will be two separate entities comprising academics. While one entity will carry out the regulatory function, the other will take care of disbursal of funds.
The minister said that higher education reforms had become essential as the scenario had changed drastically since the establishment of the UGC in 1956.
Since then the number of universities has grown from 20 to 900 at present, while the number of colleges had grown from 500 to 40,000, and the number of students had increased from 2 lakh to 3.75 crore, Javadekar stressed.