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’
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.