Higher Education Commission of India

Higher Education Commission of India
The Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Government of India, has proposed the repealing of the University Grants Commission Act, and the Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grant Commission Act) Bill, 2018 (HECI) was drafted by the Centre. The draft Act is in accordance with the commitment for reforming the regulatory systems that provide for more autonomy and facilitate the holistic growth of the education system which provides greater opportunities to the Indian students at a more affordable cost. NITI Aayog’s Higher Education Action Agenda also suggested repealing the UGC Act 1956. What are the key features of the Act? This Act provides for establishing the Higher Education Commission of India repealing the University Grants Commission Act of 1956. •It is applicable for all higher educational institutions which were established under any Act of the Parliament, not including the institutions of National Importance notified by the Government, Act of State Legislature and to all Institutions Deemed to be Universities. •There would be a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and other members who shall hold office for a term of five years up to 70 years of age. •There would be a separation of academic and funding aspects: the HECI will be in charge of ensuring academic quality in universities and colleges only, while the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) will be responsible for funding universities and colleges. •Maintenance of academic standards in the Higher Education system and specifying the learning outcomes for courses of study in higher education. •It will lay down standards of teaching, assessment, and research or any aspect that has bearing on outcomes of learning in higher educational institutions including curriculum development, training of teachers and skill development. It will provide a roadmap for mentoring of institutions found failing in maintaining the required academic standards. •It will evaluate the annual academic performance of higher educational institutions. •It will set up an accreditation system for the evaluation of academic outcomes by various HEIs. •It can order the closure of institutions that fail to adhere to the minimum standards without affecting the student’s interest or fail to get accreditation within a particular period. •It would be the advisor to the Central Government or any State Government on any question which may be referred to it by the Central Government or the State Government. •It will specify minimum eligibility conditions for the appointment of Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Directors / Principals, Deans, Heads of Department, teaching and non-teaching staff of HEIs. •It will specify the norms and processes for fixing of fee chargeable by HEIs. •It will perform functions as may be prescribed or deemed necessary for the advancement of higher education in India. •It will also perform a monitoring role through a national database and deal with all matters concerning emerging fields of knowledge, balanced growth of HEIs and academic excellence in higher education and research. •It will submit an annual report to the Parliament on the roles, responsibilities, powers, and functions discharged. Why was the Bill introduced? Many causes have prompted the introduction of the Bill replacing the UGC Act. They can be summarized as follows: •To push for major reforms in higher education. •Failure of UGC: The UGC has been preoccupied with disbursing funds, and was unable to concentrate on mentoring the institutes, focusing on research initiatives. •Committees like Yash Pal committee, National Knowledge Commission have recommended a single education regulator to rid higher education of red tape and lethargy. •The regulatory mechanism will provide more autonomy to higher education institutes. What are the criticisms against the Bill? The HECI bill has been condemned by several political activists on the following grounds: •The structure of the Bill gives political parties more say in decision making regarding education, leading to more political interference. •It has been called `vague` because the grant-related functions have not been properly explained. •Academics have expressed that the loopholes in the functioning of the UGC should have been addressed by them and not by the government. •The nature of the commission and its advisory council gives very little authority to academicians to talk about issues. •With the power to improve academic standards with a specific focus on learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, training of teachers, the commission can overregulate and micromanage institutions. It has been suggested by academicians that the HECI include reforms on focusing on Social Sciences and Humanities on an equal basis with Science and Technology related fields, make provisions for financially backward students, address issues regarding faculty shortage and revise the present syllabi for many streams in addition to its key provisions to form a more holistic body.
Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/academia-irked-by-higher-education-commission-of-india-move/article24353769.ece

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