UGC Overhaul Could Be Game Changer
By Anubhuti Vishnoi
"Budget 2017 has proposed a potentially game-changing overhaul of the University Grants Commission and “greater administrative and academic autonomy“ for good quality higher education institutes. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's proposal to restructure the apex higher education regulator is in accordance with recommendations of a number of committees and experts."
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's proposal to restructure the apex higher education regulator is in accordance with recommendations of a number of committees and experts.
Most recently, the Group of Secretaries made a strong pitch in this regard in a report last month.The report even suggested that top ranking institutions be “unfettered“ from “UGC's stringent regulatory framework“ and a graded regulation regime with “broad-based, less pre scriptive and less intrusive“ regulations be brought in.
The finance minister announced a 10% hike in allocation for education at `79,685 crore for 2017-18 along with a strong focus on reform and quality upgrade across schools and higher education institutions.
While `46,356 crore has been allo cated for school education, with the highest funds apportioned towards Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, `33,329 crore has been earmarked for higher education.
Most of the budgetary announcements on education have little or no financial component to them. Key proposals from the human resources development ministry on higher allocations for a separate National Research Foundation and Project Vishwajeet for additional funding for top-notch IITs and IISERs have been ignored.
Jaitley also announced the setting up of a National Testing Agency , an autonomous organisation to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions.Currently , CBSE conducts most entrance examinations such as NEET, UGC-NET and JEE Main.
On school education, the focus continues to be on learning outcomes.Jaitley proposed an Innovation Fund for Secondary Education be introduced in 3,479 educationally backward districts to encourage local innovation and ensure universal access, gender parity and quality improvement.