UGC is powerless even now, ed­u­ca­tion re­forms ‘might not mean much,’ says ex­pert

NOT OKAY Func­tional au­ton­omy of Univer­sity Grants Com­mis­sion was al­legedly com­pro­mised un­der sec­tion 20 (1) of the UGC Act – which was ‘used un­demo­crat­i­cally’

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Gauri Kohli HT Ed­u­ca­tion Cor­re­spon­dent

The set­ting up of a fund­ing agency for uni­ver­si­ties and higher ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes or Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Fund­ing Agency (HEFA) and a Na­tional Test­ing Agency for en­trance ex­ams will hardly have an im­pact on the Univer­sity Grants Com­mis­sion’s (UGC) as it has through the years lost most of its au­ton­omy, an aca­demic ex­pert has said.

The al­leged mis­use of sec­tion 20(1) of the UGC Act by the HRD min­istry, which makes it bind­ing on the UGC to act on gov­ern­ment di­rec­tions, has left it powerless, al­leges MM An­sari, for mer UGC mem­ber. “The Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion Coun­cil was trans­ferred from Indira Gandhi Na­tional Open Univer­sity to UGC (when it re­quired amend­ments in both the UGC Act and Ig­nou Act) and the four-year un­der­grad­u­ate pro­gramme of Delhi Univer­sity was scrapped. HEFA has the man­date for fund­ing se­lect pub­lic and pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions, but where is HEFA?” he asks.

Un­der sec­tion 20 (1) of the UGC Act, the Com­mis­sion is bound to fol­low the dik­tat of the gov­ern­ment, mainly in the mat­ter of pro­vid­ing pol­icy guid­ance. “How­ever, un­der this pro­vi­sion, func­tional au­ton­omy of the UGC is to­tally com­pro­mised due to its mis­use by the Cen­tral bu­reau­cracy. This sec­tion has been used un­demo­crat­i­cally and i l l e gally to by­pass the Com­mis­sion. As a re­sult, it has failed to en­sure trans­parency and ob­jec­tiv­ity in its de­ci­sion­mak­ing pro­cesses as well as im­ple­men­ta­tion of its reg­u­la­tory guide­lines,” adds An­sari. In fact, An­sari in a pre­sen­ta­tion be­fore the Hari Gau­tam Com­mit­tee set up to as­sess UGC’s sta­tus had said UGC’s fund­ing role, par­tic­u­larly in re­spect of state uni­ver­si­ties, had been taken over by the HRD min­istry, which in turn had un­der­mined the role and re­spon­si­bil­ity of UGC for dis­burse­ment of grants to uni­ver­si­ties. The com­mit­tee had also rec­om­mended re­vamp­ing of the UGC but the re­port is not in the pub­lic do­main. There was un­due du­pli­ca­tion of roles and ef­forts in fund­ing of uni­ver­si­ties by the HRD min­istry and UGC, An­sari had told the com­mit­tee. He had also called for greater clar­ity in sources and meth­ods of fund­ing of uni­ver­si­ties fix ac­count­abil­ity and to seek value for money.

In the last Bud­get, the gov­ern­ment had promised to es­tab­lish HEFA for sup­port­ing 10 uni­ver­si­ties each from the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor to make them world-class in­sti­tu­tions. “The gov­ern­ment has for­got­ten about it and no one knows what hap­pened to HEFA,” An­sari says.

Fund­ing by the UGC also t otals a mere one- t hird of ex­pen­di­ture of Cen­tral in­stitu- tions. “It will hardly have any im­pact on the higher ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. More than half of Cen­tral uni­ver­si­ties and other in­sti­tu­tions like IITs and IIMs es­tab­lished in the last five years have hardly been op­er­a­tional. They con­tinue to suf­fer due to lack of in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing short­ages of staff to the ex­tent of 40% to 50%. The gov­ern­ment is silent on these is­sues,” An­sari says.

The Cen­tre, last year, had an­nounced the set­ting up of HEFA to give a ma­jor push for Ap­pli­ca­tions are open f or the Chevening Gur ukul Fel­low­ship for Lead­er­ship and Ex­cel­lence. The UK For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice’s (FCO) flag­ship fel­low­ship for fu­ture In­dian lead­ers is aimed at high-fly­ing, mid-ca­reer pro­fes­sion­als from dif­fer­ent back­grounds.

Twelve fel­lows are se­lected each year with strong lead­er­ship qual­i­ties. The in­ten­sive, 12-week fully-funded res­i­den­tial course is con­ducted at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford’s depart­ment of pol­i­tics and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

The fel­low­ship ad­dresses is­sues faced by lead­ers in all fields and ex­plores chang­ing ideas and prac­tices in lead­er­ship, look­ing at the im­pli­ca­tions of glob­al­i­sa­tion for In­dian lead­ers.

Chevening is the UK gov­ern­ment’s in­ter­na­tional awards scheme aimed at de­vel­op­ing global lead­ers.

Funded by the FCO and part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions, Chevening of f ers t wo types of awards – Chevening Schol­ar­ships and Chevening Fel­low­ships. Launched in 1983, the awards are of­fered in over 160 coun­tries. There are over 46,000 Chevening alumni in the world and over 2,300 in In­dia.

Ap­pli­ca­tions for the pro­gramme are open un­til March 27, 2017. Ap­ply on­line at http:// www.chevening.org/pro­gramme/gu­rukul Higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions which get the high­est grade from the Na­tional As­sess­ment and Ac­cred­i­ta­tion Coun­cil (NAAC), Ben­galuru, for three con­sec­u­tive cy­cles, will get an ex­ten­sion of two years in their ac­cred­i­ta­tion.

In a re­cent de­ci­sion, the coun­cil con­cluded that ex­ten­sion of the va­lid­ity pe­riod of NAAC ac­cred­i­ta­tion from five years to seven years be given to those in­sti­tu­tions which have ob­tained high­est grade for three cy­cles con­tin­u­ously.

In case an in­sti­tu­tion ap­plies for reac­cred­i­ta­tion within the stip­u­lated pe­riod of six months be­fore the end of the cy­cle of ac­cred­i­ta­tion, as per NAAC guide­lines, t he gap pe­riod b e t we e n t wo c o n s e c u t i ve ac­cred­i­ta­tions will be ap­proved. In case of other in­sti­tu­tions which have not ap­plied as per the guide­lines, the max­i­mum pe­riod for ap­proval would be one year be­tween the two con­sec­u­tive ac­cred­i­ta­tion cy­cles. The prin­ci­ples of ap­proval in case of NAAC ac­cred­i­ta­tion will also be ap­pli­ca­ble in case of Na­tional Board of Ac­cred­i­ta­tion (NBA).

If the in­sti­tu­tion is graded with A++ and A+ (3.51 and above out of 4) in cur­rently en­forced seven point scale of NAAC, then it will be con­sid­ered as the high­est ac­cred­i­ta­tion for these reg­u­la­tions.

As DP Singh, di­rec­tor, NAAC, says, “In recog­ni­tion of the ma­tu­rity of the qual­ity as­sur­ance pro­cesses in these in­sti­tu­tions and also tak­ing into cog­ni­sance the high de­gree of stan­dards and con­sis­tency as set by the as­sess­ment and ac­cred­i­ta­tion pro­cesses of NAAC, the de­ci­sion of ex­ten­sion to seven years has been taken as ap­proved by the UGC. The move would usher in more rigour in the qual­ity en­hance­ment process in these in­sti­tu­tions.”

UGC will con­sider grant­ing au­ton­omy to col­leges that have re­ceived the high­est NAAC ac­cred­i­ta­tion in two con­sec­u­tive cy­cles. Apart from a high NAAC grade, au­ton­omy will be granted only to those in­sti­tutes that ad­here to UGC reg­u­la­tions.

The new pa­ram­e­ters adopted by NAAC in July last year will help an in­sti­tute fo­cus on women’s em­pow­er­ment, in­dus­try link­ages, ac­cess for the dif­fer­ently abled, in­cul­ca­tion of hu­man val­ues and pro­fes­sional ethics, among other things. NAAC has worked out sev­eral modal­i­ties for elec­tronic as­sess­ment and ac­cred­i­ta­tion as part of which HEIs ap­ply­ing for sec­ond and third cy­cle ac­cred­i­ta­tion can be con­sid­ered for elec­tronic as­sess­ment and ac­cred­i­ta­tion.

Since 2007, NAAC had been us­ing the four- point grad­ing ( A, B, C and D) with CGPA and de­scrip­tors for each of the al­pha­bet­i­cal grade as­signed. “How­ever, it has been a com­mon feel­ing that four- point grad­ing does not pro­vide clear de­mar­ca­tion of the per­for­mance lev­els of the in­sti­tu­tions with a large co­hort of in­sti­tu­tions clubbed into one sin­gle grade. This is why a seven-point grad­ing sys­tem was in­tro­duced in July 2016,” says Pro­fes­sor Singh.

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