Ministry of Human Resource Development may replace University Grants Commission (UGC) with a new body soon. The Ministry has invited comments and suggestions from educationists, stakeholders and general public on the draft act. The Act may be called the Higher Education Commission of India Act, 2018 (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act, 1956). The new body will focus only on academic matters and grants would be issued by the ministry. In a tweet on June 27, Prakash Javadekar, the Union Minister for HRD said, “My appeal to all educationists, stakeholders & others to furnish their comments and suggestions by 7th July 2018 till 5 pm and mail at email@example.com.”
What is the New Act for HECI?
Apart from just replacing UGC Act 1956, the new act (HECI), as per the draft act, will ensure no interference in the management issues of the educational institutes. The new body will only focus on academic matters and grants would be issued by the Ministry. Regulations for running institutions would be formed through public discourse. HECI will also regulate opening and closing of institutions. The new act will also allow regulators to fine institutes which do not comply with the set academic standards.
Difference from UGC
While UGC possessed grant-giving powers, HECI won’t get funds to splurge. This decision was taken considering the recommendations of government agencies which suggested that fund-giving capability of a governing body of institutes should be regulated. The lack of an inspection regime has led to a decline in the quality of Indian education system. The regulation of fund-disbursing mechanism will ensure that HECI focuses single-mindedly on academics. The act also authorizes HECI to act against the institutes in case the norms specified by the act are violated. It also brings provisions to ‘mentor’ substandard institutes rather than issuing a closure order to such institutions.
Key Thrust Areas of HECI
The key areas to focus for HECI will be decreasing the size of governance of institutions, bringing a disclosure based regulatory mechanism and authority to enforce regulations. Academic quality will be of prime importance for the body and emphasis will be laid on effect of learning outcomes, increasing academic performance by institutions, mentoring of institutions, training of teachers, and usage of technology while teaching at instutions. It will also formulate guidelines to regulate opening and closing of institutions, to increase the autonomy of universities, and to set eligibilities for appointments at senior leadership positions. An advisory council consisting of the HRD minister, Higher Education Secretary and state higher education council heads under HERC act will advice the government after every six months. Meanwhile, the act certainly seeks to transform the entire way the entire education system is governed in our country.