NEW DELHI: The six-decade-old University Grants Commission (UGC) appears to be on its last legs.
"In a landmark decision, a draft Act for repeal of #UGC & setting up #HECI (Higher Education Commission of India) has been prepared," HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted.
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 the holistic growth of the education system.
Presently, The University Grants Commission (UGC), which came into existence in 1953, provides financial assistance to eligible colleges.
The new Act will be called the Higher Education Commission of India Act, 2018 (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act).
The draft bill placed in public domain by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development on Wednesday seeks to scrap the UGC and replace it with a new regulatory body called the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), which will have no say in the management of educational institutions.
The HECI’s mandate is to focus on academics alone. Functions to grant funds will be taken over by the ministry itself. The draft will be open for public comments till July 7. The bill aims to end inspection raj in higher education. To do so, regulation will to be done through transparent public disclosure and merit-based decision making on matters regarding standards and quality in higher education.
HECI has also been tasked with improving academic standards with specific focus on learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, mentoring of institutions, training teachers, promoting use of educational technology etc.
Another aspect that will have bearing on the state’s powers, is the proposal to develop norms to set standards for opening and closing of institutions, provide for greater flexibility and autonomy to institutions and lay standards for appointments to critical leadership positions at the institutional level irrespective of under which law the University was started (including State law).
The new Act also proposes jail term for non-compliance of academic standards. The regulator will also have the power to order closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions.
The HRD Ministry has asked educationists, the general public and other stakeholders to give comments and suggestions 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 was earlier planning a single regulator for technical education, national council teachers training and UGC.
However, it has been 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.
What’s in the draft