Saturday, June 27, 2009

Higher education: welcome reforms

As a part of the HRD ministry's current move to overhaul the education system in India, the existing regulatory bodies like UGC, AICTE, Medical Council of India, NCTE and Distance Education Council shall be replaced by one single body. This is in line with the recommendations made by National Knowledge Commission and the Yashpal committee. Welcome move indeed !

It will go long way reducing the prevailig malpractices and also contribute towards improving the quality of higher education

The Yashpal committee laments the ill-growth of private educational institutions and deemed universities.The committee recommends granting of deemed universites be put on hold till unambiguous, rational guidelines are evolved. The Committe observes that the behaviour of some private universities has become a matter of serious concern to students and parents. A detailed probe into the basic reasons for the concerns revealed that many of them were professional colleges that got approval from the regulatory bodies for university status. Immediately after, they began admitting five to six times their capacity, without a corresponding increase in faculty strength or infrastructure. The classes were conducted at strange hours like factory operations. The students who paid huge capitation fees felt cheated. The students from the underprivileged sections could not get admission in many of them, due to heavy capitation fees”.

Another big part of the plan is a legislation to prevent, prohibit and punish educational malpractices. The draft Bill has been sent to the Law Ministry. It proposes to give teeth to the government to deal with institutions that do not meet promises made in their prospectus, be it fees, quality of teachers or infrastructure. The recognition to deemed universities, 127 new ones in the past five years, is being reviewed.

Accreditation shall be mandatory for higher education institutions.The entry barriers would be very tough.Once passed, an institute can become a deemed university and even a full-fledged university.

A law to regulate foreign education providers is on the anvil. The Bill proposes to regulate fees and ensure Indian laws are followed. Whether these institutions would have to abide by the quota rule,would be decided on a case-by-case basis. Big foreign universities might be exempted from quotas.

The economically weaker sections will be offered interest subsidy on the educational loans. The scheme might be a part of the budget 2009.

On the planning board is also a scholarship scheme under which money will be directly credited to bank accounts of 41,000 boys and an equal number of girls in colleges.

The Government proposal on educational reforms is a result of continuing discussion and debate that go back to the previous UPA regime and are being monitored by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has accorded priority to the sector.

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