New Delhi : Skills minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy’s plan to open universities under his ministry that will equip students with vocational skills appears to have been shelved in the face of resistance from the human resource development (HRD) ministry.
On Thursday, Rudy for the first time told the Rajya Sabha that although the plan had support from several ministries, it faced opposition from the HRD ministry. He indicated that without a policy decision at higher levels, it will be tough to create a skills’ ecosystem.
Rudy said that in March 2015, his ministry had set up a working group to lay down the road map for implementing the proposal, and the next month the group presented a report and a draft bill to set up skill universities.
“Several ministries supported the proposal while some like the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, had some reservations. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is presently in the process of examining the comments received,” Rudy said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.
Replying to a subsequent question in the Rajya Sabha, Rudy said the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) too had reservations, but did not disclose details.
The University Grants Commission (UGC)—which comes under the HRD ministry—regulates universities, and without its permission, no university can function or offer degrees. Any other ministry opening a university without the HRD ministry’s consent would be a transgression of jurisdiction.
An HRD ministry official said on condition of anonymity that the ministry had questioned the varsity plan. “The fundamental question is why separate skills universities are required in the first place. The UGC has already asked universities to start bachelor’s degree in vocational education courses other than participating in skill development schemes through certificate courses,” the official said, adding the HRD ministry has plans to open community colleges for the purpose.
Another government official aware of the development said looking at the opposition from both HRD and DIPP, the proposal is now on the back burner. “It’s shelved as of now,” the official said, also requesting anonymity.
Rudy told the Rajya Sabha that his ministry is in favour of creating a skill development “ecosystem” by bringing everything related to it under “one vertical”. Though he did not elaborate on it, in November 2016, he had said that he was in favour of taking over the All India Council of Technical Education from the HRD ministry to build a skills ecosystem.
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