UGC being scrapped; Higher education in for an overhaul?

Must Read

Should the Exorbitant Amounts Charged for RT-PCR Tests be Refunded?

Introduction A plea has been filed in the Honourable Supreme Court of India seeking a refund of exorbitant amounts charged...

Should CCTV’s be Installed in the Police Station?

Introduction In a recent judgment, the bench led by Justice Nariman issued directions to both the state and Union Territory...

A Legal Analysis of the West Bengal Political Crisis on IPS Deputation

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently summoned three IPS officers of West Bengal (WB). The decision was...

Explained: Postal Ballot for NRIs

At the end of November 2020, Election Commission sent a proposal to the law ministry to amend the Representation...

Explained: Constitutional Provisions and Legislations With Regards to a Person with Disabilities

The world celebrates December 3 as International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). This day is also called World...

“Pro-Enforcement Bias” Towards Foreign Arbitral Awards Domestically, in light of Vijay Karia and Ors. V. Prysmian Cavi E Sistemi S.R.L and Ors.

International Arbitration faces challenges domestically due to unharmonized local laws for enforcement. Often it may occur that an award...

Follow us

The draft bill for Higher education Commission of India Bill (HECI) 2018, was linked on the tweet by HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, who took to Twitter to announce the proposition that seeks to replace the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act 1956. He urged educationists and stakeholders to provide their valuable feedback on the same. Following an announcement by the Human Resource Development that they wish to replace the existing UGC Act with the HECI Bill, once passed, there is an ongoing nationwide debate as to which regime would be better and the fate of UGC controlled affiliations and UGC NET (University Grants Commission’s National Eligibility Test). The Centre in its press release had described the Bill as “downsizing the scope of the Regulator”, “removing interference in the management issues of the educational institutions”, and improving academic standards. The bill has drawn its fair share of critics, who feel it is a step towards bureaucratized education that is absolutely under Government control. While a fair amount of people feel that these are winds of welcome change.

Getting down to the provisions of the bill, here is how they read as compared to the UGC Act existing in the place. The first section that has drawn a lot of attention to itself is the sections 3 and 4 which talk about the appointment of chairpersons, vice chairpersons and filling up of casual vacancies respectively. It lists the conditions for selection into such posts, being – a scholar of eminent repute preferably from institutions of national importance, citizenship, someone from the industry, the number of members on the board. This section, unlike the UGC Act, doesn’t have the clear mandate that the Chairman of the Commission “shall be chosen from among persons who are not officers of the Government or any State Government”. This leads to a lot of questions on the autonomy of HECI and the fairness of this body under duress and political tactics. The Chairperson of the proposed Higher Education Commission can now be selected from among functionaries of the Central or State governments, provided he/she satisfies conditions listed. These sections make the appointment of the Chairperson of HEC incumbent on the decision of a Search-Cum-Selection-Committee (ScSc), headed by Cabinet Secretary and flanked by the Secretary of Higher Education (both Government Of India employed). The principle of non-intervention that was enshrined in the letter of the UGC Act, as an acknowledgement of the need for autonomy in educational policy-making, is discarded by the proposed HECI Bill with regard to the very setting up of the Commission. This section also allows an overseas citizen of India to be appointed in these positions. These have been met with mixed reviews, some say it brings a much sought after global perception to Indian education and some believe persons not bound by the laws of this land and away from it won’t be able to pick on its specific needs.

A lot of people including, Member of Parliament Anbumani Ramadoss, feel a complete dismantling of UGC does not serve a purpose and instead it should be enriched and given more powers to contribute towards quality education. HECI will ‘specify standards for grant of authorization to a university or higher educational institution to commence its academic operations’. In order to verify these financial requirements, UGC conducts periodic inspections, but the proposed bill will only advise on academic performance by the higher educational institutions. The new HECI will have the financial powers to fund or de-fund an institute. The number of members has been slightly extended in the fresh Bill. While UGC has a Chairman, Vice-Chairman and 10 members by the central government; in HECI, 12 members will be appointed by the Centre that will include educationists and a member of the industry.

Key concerns also include the funding of institutions. The HECI Bill promotes autonomy and the agenda of privatization. Coming close on the heels of Centre’s budget cut in the arena of education in the fiscal year to 3.8%, the institutions given full financial autonomy will now have to raise funds by imposing higher fees on the students. Though there has been a Union Cabinet decision to expand the scope of the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) by enhancing its capital base to Rs 10,000 crore to meet the rising financial requirements of educational infrastructure in the country. The UGC currently serves the dual functions of standardizing higher education and giving grants to public-funded institutions. UGC is responsible for promoting and coordinating university education, determining and maintaining standards of teaching, examination, and research in universities and framing regulations on minimum standards of education. The representation of teachers in HECI has been excluded. The transparency of HECI is dependent upon Sections 8 and 9 which state that the interests of members of HECI and their involvement in institutions whether directly or indirectly will be published, but is it enough to serve a deterrent? Under section 15 of the proposed bill, HECI has been given powers greater than UGC to specify standards of teaching and evaluation, as well as learning outcomes of the Higher education institutions and shutting the ones that do not meet desired criteria. Power like this may tempt corruption and calls out for checks and balances. The livelihood of staff and careers of students may be jeopardized if institutions are shut down arbitrarily and create a shortage of higher education institutions. The HECI is also tasked with the development of “norms and mechanisms to measure the effectiveness of programmes and employability of the graduates, this is a lauded provision which makes this condition important for accessing funds. Apart from this it provides for a credit based system for the award of degrees thereby ending the current tyranny of forcing a student to repeat the entire year if she fails in even one subject, promotes enforcement via transparent self-disclosure by higher education institutions with supplying of false information attracting punitive action. The bill denies HECI the function of allocating grants to higher education institutions, in a bid to reduce inspection raj. Though it is feared that the All India Council for Technical Education and the National Council for Teachers’ Education into the HECI. If left untouched, these councils can potentially undermine HECI’s work. The deadline for providing feedback for this bill has been increased by 10 days and the deadline is now 20th July 2018.

At the end of the day, higher education in India is in desperate need of access, diversity and quality. It requires programs and methodology of teaching that meet global standards and empower students to be a leader in their fields. The infrastructure in place must align with the needs of this modern era and produce analytical thinking, thrive in innovation, a dynamic thrust in entrepreneurship and industry based knowledge. The road to this is to be chosen with utmost care to expel any ambiguity which can be rewritten upon and whose brevities can be exploited by the Government of the day.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest News

Petition Filed in Delhi High Court Challenging the New Privacy Policy of WhatsApp

A petition has been raised before the Delhi High Court challenging the updated privacy policy of the instant messaging app, WhatsApp. It is accused of looking into the virtual activities of the users,

Bombay High Court Says Pleas Against the Rejection of Nomination Before the Polls Is Not Maintainable

Bombay High Court on Wednesday held that a candidate cannot challenge his nomination by filing a writ petition before a court prior to the polls after his nominations have already been rejected by the Returning Officer (RO) for the Panchayat elections of January 15.

Bombay HC: It Will Be Difficult if Civic Bodies Don’t Take Action on Illegal Constructions

The Bombay High Court said on Wednesday that if the Municipal Corporations do not take action on the illegal constructions, things will become very difficult. This observation was made by a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice Girish Kulkarni while hearing a PIL after the Bhiwandi building collapse on September 21st, 2020 which led to the death of 39 lives. Mumbai Thane, Ulhasnagar, Kalyan-Dombivli, Vasai-Virar, Navi Mumbai, and Bhiwandi-Nizampur corporations were filed as respondents.

Uttarakhand High Court Directed State Authorities To Frame SOP Regarding Kumbh Mela 2021

Noticing the commencement date of Kumbh Mela 2021 amid pandemic from 27 February 2021, the Uttarakhand High Court on Monday expressed concern with regard to organizing and conducting of the Mela and directed State Authorities to discuss and resolve the logistical problems which can come in organizing the Mela during the pandemic time.

Writ Petition Not Maintainable Against Mahindra Finance, Being a Purely Private Body: Allahabad High Court

The Allahabad High Court reiterated that Writ Petition against the purely private body is not maintainable and dismissed the petition which was filed against Mahindra Finance Bank as Arif Khan v. Branch Manager Mahindra Finance Sultanpur & Another.

Publication of Notices for Inter-Faith Marriages No Longer Mandatory: Allahabad High Court

The Allahabad High Court has passed a landmark judgment that likely brings relief to inter-faith marriage. The Court on Wednesday said that the mandatory publication of Notices of Inter-Faith marriages will now be optional to protect the Privacy and Liberty of the Couple. The Court observed that the publication of the notice would “invade the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy”. Therefore, it has made it optional for the couple, they can now request in form of writing to a marriage officer to publish or not to publish a notice regarding the marriage.

Bombay High Court to NIA: Consider Health and Age of Varavara Rao Before Opposing His Bail Plea

The Bombay HC on Wednesday observed that ‘we are all humans’ and asked the National Investigation Agency and the Maharashtra Government to consider the health and age of the Telugu poet-activist Varavara Rao before making submissions in response to his bail plea application on medical grounds.

Supreme Court Agrees To Examine Centre’s Plea To Keep Adultery a Crime in Armed Forces

The Centre appealed to the Supreme court on Wednesday, pleading that the 2018 judgment of decriminalizing adultery under IPC must not apply to the armed forces. The Supreme Court in a path-breaking verdict in 2018 decriminalized adultery and declared all its provisions unconstitutional as it diminishes the value of women, but maintained that it continues to be a ground for divorce.

Supreme Court Examines the Pollution in Yamuna River for the Second Time

The Supreme Court on Wednesday made a second attempt to clean the Yamuna river by taking a Suo Moto Cognizance of significantly high levels of ammonia water discharged from neighbouring states like Haryana into Delhi.

Fetus Suffering From Anencephaly, Woman’s Plea To Terminate 28-Weeks Pregnancy Allowed by Delhi HC

Based on the report of the medical board constituted by AIIMS, the Delhi High Court on Monday allowed a petition filed by a woman seeking the termination of her 28-weeks pregnancy. They said in its report that the fetus suffered from anencephaly, a disorder where the skull bone is not developed and was thus incompatible with life, therefore her fetus can be aborted.

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -