New Delhi : The rigid and heavily criticized regulatory regime of the University Grants Commission (UGC), the apex higher education regulator, is set to undergo a major overhaul.
The Prakash Javadekar-led ministry of human resource development has finalized the first roadmap to bring in a new system that is less prescriptive and encourages minimal regulation.
Plans are on to repeal obsolete UGC regulations, categorize institutes by performance, reward outstanding ones by converting them into universities and penalize laggards and defaulters with closures and stoppage of grants. Following the budgetary announcement on restructuring of UGC and freeing up of higher education, the government is putting together a fast-track plan to implement it without any long-drawn legislative changes.
The HRD ministry proposes to introduce a system to classify institutes into three categories, depending on performance on a range of parameters. Outstanding institutions will get quick passage for conversion into standalone universities.
Institutes and colleges in the top category will be given total autonomy for expansion, starting new courses, fixing of fees and so on. Institutions found languishing in the lowest category will be put through a UGC-backed mentoring programme. If they still fail to improve, they could be targeted for closure or merger.
Autonomy will be the thrust of the new regulatory regime. It is proposed that colleges should be allowed to start new courses without approval of the university, which is mandated to award the degrees. A restructuring of the scheme for autonomous colleges has been decided upon to transform outstanding institutions into universities.
In the case of technical institutes under All India Council of Technical Education, it is proposed that those with 75% of their courses accredited will be given autonomy to modify the syllabus when needed, besides a range of other issues.
Autonomy will be granted in matters such as appointment of teachers, admission of students, research areas, pedagogy, courses on offer, award of degrees, requirement of faculty and fixing of fees.
All UGC regulations found out of tune or unnecessary will be repealed or modified and the commission is already identifying them.
Along with autonomy, the changes will bring in accountability, clearly defining their parameters. Learning outcomes and clear quality benchmarks will be identified. Mandatory Aadhaar seeding into the faculty database is advocated to check bogus staffing. Penal provisions to stop grants to institutions submitting fraudulent data will be incorporated.
Bringing in a credible, predictable and transparent accreditation framework has been identified as key to cleaning up the higher education sector. It is recommended that the accreditation framework identify clear, streamlined quality benchmarks for agencies to assess institutions.
The focus will be on minimum physical inspection, which is viewed as a route to corruption, and on prioritizing data capture instead. The score of an institute will be based on objective quantitative inputs gathered online (80%) and qualitative inputs through a peer review system (20%). The peer review report will be put online when ready in the interests of transparency. In his budget speech on February 1, finance minister Arun Jaitley had proposed reforms in UGC.
“Good quality institutions would be enabled to have greater administrative and academic autonomy. Colleges will be identified based on accreditation and ranking and given autonomous status. A revised framework will be put in place for outcome-based accreditation and credit-based programmes,” the minister said.
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