Government To Dissolve UGC & Form New Higher Secondary Regulatory Body; Teachers Given 10 Days For Opinions
On June 27, the Central government announced that they have planned to repeal the University Grants Commission Act, 1956. The Human Resources Development Ministry, headed by Prakash Javadekar said that this will reform higher education in our country. In a draft bill called ‘Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of UGC Act), 2018’ it is stated that University Grants Commission will be replaced with a ‘Higher Education Commission’. Teachers have been given 10 days to give their opinion on the new act.
The University Grants Commission of India (UGC India) is a statutory body set up by the Indian Union government in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development. It is responsible for coordination, determination and maintenance of standards in higher education.
Changes after the new draft
India has 850 Universities and over 40,000 colleges. The new draft has major changes in the financing and regulatory policy. In this new draft, it is also said that the proposed regulator will not disburse funds to public universities. Currently, the funding of universities is streamlined by the HRD Ministry headed by academicians. In the new regime, a note accompanying the draft said, the “grant functions would be done by the ministry”, reported Scroll.
“The grants will come from the ministry or some other arrangement,” the higher education secretary R Subrahmanyam told the media. “That arrangement we will notify shortly.” The Higher Education Commission will also be backed with penal powers to order the closure of institutes that violate set norms, an imposition of fines where necessary and provisions for imprisonment up to three years where necessary.
The new body, ‘Higher Education Commission’ would be free to focus on the quality of education provided by a university. It will “specify learning outcomes for courses of study in higher education”, “evaluate the yearly academic performance” and even “order closure of institutions which fail to adhere to minimum standards…or fail to get accreditation within the specified period”, reported Scroll.
Subrahmanyam said that the purpose of the body would be to focus more on education and deliver the best possible solution for quality higher education. “That is the main purpose – set academic standards, monitor standards, train teachers if required, and if after all that they are still not performing, order their closure,” he further added.
He further added that the body will respond to the growing needs of the country’s education structure and make India’s academics reach excellence. Teachers and policy experts have until July 7 to review and comment on this proposal.
‘Old wine in a new bottle’
The idea of receiving funds directly from the ministry is worrisome for most of the experts.
An eminent academician, working in a central university for close to 40 years, told The Logical Indian “See, first we have to understand that there are many problems with UGC. Funds are not sanctioned properly. They are not even sanctioning post. The departments are being created but there are no teachers because the posts are not sanctioned.”
The bill is not complete and hence, the propositions are not very clear yet, he further added. He says that at this point in time it is very difficult to pinpoint what kind of changes it will bring in higher education. “The higher education in our country is not satisfactory. Just by changing the name of the regulatory body, nothing will happen. Some serious reformations need to be brought in place. Otherwise, it would be like serving old wine in a new bottle,” he reiterated.
Talking about the funding issue he said “Certain power was not there with the Ministry of Human Resource Development before when UGC was in place. With this new body, the ministry gets direct power.”