Govt ‘in the process of finalizing’ Higher Education Commission Bill

Human Resources Development minister Prakash Javadekar today said that the government is still in the process of finalizing the draft of a new bill to set up a new higher education body in India.

“The Ministry is in the process of finalization of the draft Higher Education
Commission of India Bill, 2018 based on the suggestions/comments received from
various stakeholders,” Javadekar said.

The minister said the government had put up the bill on its website last month. Comments and feedback from the public were sought till Friday, and these are being studied and incorporated into the bill, he added.

A total of around 10,000 suggestions have been received on the bill.

Comments and suggestions, he said, have been received from MPs, governments, academicians, teachers’ unions, students and industrial lobby groups.

Javadekar reiterated that the new law will spin off the function of disbursing funds to a separate body outside the regulator.

“The grant disbursal function to Universities and Colleges is now proposed to be located in an entity which works in a transparent, merit-based approach through an ICT (information, communication & technology) enabled platform,” he said.

Simultaneously, the UGC will be renamed/replaced by Higher Education Commission or HEC.

After this change, he said, the HEC will focus on improving the quality of higher education, and not on routine tasks.

He said the move follows the recommendations of expert committees.

Many “expert committees such as Hari Gautam Committee recommended that the regulator should focus on promotion of quality teaching and research and usher measures to bring the much needed reforms in the higher education sector.

“The (bill) now proposes to enable the Commission to perform its role effectively in attaining standards and enhancing quality in higher education.

“The proposed Higher Education Commission of India will focus largely on promoting the quality of academic instruction, maintenance of academic standards and grant of autonomy of higher educational institutions,” he added.

The move to replace and overhaul the grants system has generated some concern among state governments and academicians on whether the grants-disbursal process will remain largely independent of political interference after it is separated from the regulator.

Javadekar has tried to address the concerns and assured leaders that it grants body will not be a bureaucratic institution controlled by the government.