Panel in UGC's stead independent: Govt

Education ministry finalising draft Higher Education Commission Bill.

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday allayed all round fears that the proposed higher education commission would be an “independent” body and that their (states’) rights would not be impunged. The assurance from the government came amid concerns expressed by several lawmakers in Lok Sabha over replacing the University Grants Commission (UGC). The proposed Higher Education Commission of India Bill, 2018 seeks to repeal the UGC Act, 1956 and establish the Commission to effectively attain standards and enhance quality of higher education.

Human resources development minister Prakash Javadekar told the Lower House during Question Hour that the new body would not be a government ministry but an independent body.

Replying to supplementaries on a host of issues, the minister also informed the lower house that all universities have been asked to review the list of academic journals recommended by them by August 30, amid concerns that many publish papers for a charge.

“We are not converting it (proposed higher education commission) into a bureaucratic organisation... It will remain independent,” Mr Javadekar said, adding the context has changed now.

When the UGC was set up in 1956, there were 20 universities, 500 colleges and around 2 lakh students. Now, there are over 900 universities, 40,000 colleges and more than 3.5 crore students, the minister said.Raising concerns, some members wanted to know why the UGC is going to be replaced.

The minister said there would be two commissions -one for providing grants and the other for carrying out regulatory functions.

“That is the whole idea,” he said during the Question Hour. According to the minister, the grant disbursal function to universities and colleges is now proposed to be located in an entity which works in a transparent, merit-based approach through an ICT (Information and Communication Technology) enabled platform. Making it clear that rights of states would not be impunged with the creation of the new body, the minister also said there would not be any change at all in existing reservations for OBC, SC and others. “The proposed Higher Education Commission of India will focus largely on promoting the quality of academic instruction, maintenance of academic standards and grant of autonomy of higher educational institutions,” Mr Javadekar said. The ministry is in the process of finalisation of the draft Higher Education Commission of India Bill, 2018 based on suggestionsreceived from various stakeholders, he said.

The draft bill now proposes to enable the Commission to perform its role effectively in attaining standards and enhancing quality of higher education, Javadekar added.

Next Story