- A Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Bill 2018 which seeks to repeal UGC Act and provides for setting up of Higher Education Commission of India has been prepared by the Ministry of HRD and placed in public domain for comments and suggestions.
- Over the last four years, the HRD ministry has deliberated on several models like a single regulator for higher education by merging UGC, National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE); however, the plans were not taken forward.
- The plan was to merge all higher education regulators through a planned agency called HEERA, which was supposed to be put in place as a super regulator.
- However, the present proposal is to replace just the UGC.
- Once this is done after the HECI Bill is passed by Parliament, the technical education regulator AICTE and the teachers’ education regulator NCTE will also be reformed on similar lines.
- The new Act is likely to be tabled in the Parliament during the monsoon session.
Highlight of the Higher Education Commission of India Bill, 2018
- The new Act will be called the Higher Education Commission of India Act, 2018 (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act).
- UGC on the way out, to be replaced with Higher Education Commission of India and the transformation of the regulatory set up is guided by the following principles:
- Less Government and more Governance:
- Downsizing the scope of the Regulator.
- No more interference in the management issues of the educational institutions.
- Separation of grant functions:
- The grant functions would be carried out by the HRD Ministry, and the HECI would focus only on academic matters.
- Presently, The University Grants Commission (UGC), which came into existence in 1953, provides financial assistance to eligible colleges.
- End of Inspection Raj:
- Regulation is done through transparent public disclosures, merit-based decision making on matters regarding standards and quality in higher education.
- Focus on academic quality:
- HECI is tasked with the mandate of improving academic standards with specific focus on learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, mentoring of institutions, training of teachers, promote use of educational technology etc.
- It will develop norms for setting standards for opening and closure of institutions, provide for greater flexibility and autonomy to institutions, lay standards for appointments to critical leadership positions at the institutional level irrespective of University started under any Law (including State Law).
- Powers to enforce:
- The Regulator will have powers to enforce compliance to the academic quality standards and will have the power to order closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions.
- Non-compliance could result in fines or jail sentence.
- Till now, the UGC had no such powers. All it could do was to release a list of bogus institutions and not recognise their degrees.
- Less Government and more Governance:
Composition ofHigher education commission of India (HECI)
- Higher Education Commission of India is aimed at replacing the University Grants Commission for eliciting suggestions from educationists.
- The new commission shall consist of a chairperson, vice chairperson and 12 members to be appointed by the central government.
- Of the 12 members, three members will represent union government namely: secretary of higher education, secretary of ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship and secretary, department of science and technology.
Need of HECI
- The existing regulatory structure as reflected by the mandate given to University Grants Commission required redefinition based on the changing priorities of higher education.
- There was aneed for reforming the regulatory systems that provide for more autonomy and facilitate holistic growth of the education system which provides greater opportunities to the Indian students at more affordable cost.
- 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.
- Thus, for promoting uniform development of quality of education in higher educational institutions, there is a need for creation of a Body that lays down uniform standards, and ensures maintenance of the same through systematic monitoring and promotion.