CHENNAI: The Central Government has proposed to replace the University Grants Commission (UGC) with a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) through a draft law proposed on Wednesday.
While aiming to reduce the regulator’s role, HECI will concentrate on improving learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, mentoring of institutions, training of teachers, promoting use of educational technology, among other functions.
HECI would comprise 12-members of which three would represent Central government namely: Secretary of Higher Education, Secretary of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Secretary, Department of Science and Technology.
While experts welcome the decision, they take it with a pinch of salt. “The new body should ideally reduce the burden on the universities as institutions are now accountable to two different regulatory bodies (UGC and AICTE) that have overlapping requirements sometimes. Now this would make it simpler,” said P Duraisamy, Vice Chancellor of Madras University.
However, the extent of autonomy that universities will get and the methodology of financial management that institutions should follow is unclear. “The funds should not be binding on us. We should have autonomy in internal regulations and fund management,” said a source from Anna University claiming that the draft does not elaborate how the funds allocated by 12th plan of UGC would be revamped by the ministry.
“This is a much better Act than UGC’s. In terms of powers of the commission and the composition of members of the committee has been enhanced,” said D Anandakrishnan, a former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University. He said that if the functions of the State Universities are not up to the mark, the HECI can initiate steps to ensure that standards are kept in check. “It is a welcome draft in the form that it is in,” he said.
A senior official from Tamil Nadu Higher Education Department said that it is unclear at this point how the proposed law may impact the State’s power.