24 July :Shri Arjun Singh, Human Resource Development Minister has said ‘States agreed to take immediate action against fake universities and dubious institutions under the Indian penal Court’.
Shri Arjun Singh said this while addressing the press on the conclusion of two-day Conference of Ministers of State Governments of Higher and Technical Education here today. He also briefed the press about the concensus that emerged at the end of the deliberations in the two-day Conference.
The Human Resources Development Minister had convened a meeting of Higher and Technical Education Ministers of State Governments at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on the 23rd and 24th July, 2008.The Chief Minister of Goa, and Uttarakhand, Lt.Gov.of Anadaman & Nicobar Islands, Chairman of Andhra Pradesh State Council for Higher Education, Vice Chairman, Kerala State Higher Education Council, 25 State Technical / Higher Education Ministers and 29 State Technical/Higher Education Principal Secretaries/ Secretaries/ Commissioners participated in the conference. The Conference had been convened by the HRM in the backdrop of an over 9 times increase in the XI Central Five Year Plan allocation for Higher and Technical education, compared to the allocation for Education in the X Five Year Plan.
2. During the XI Plan, it has been proposed to set up several new institutions including 8 IITs, 7 IIMs, 10 NITs, 20 IIITs [Indian Institutes of Information Technology], 16 Central Universities in hitherto uncovered States, 14 Central Universities aiming at world class standards, three IISERS [Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research], two SPAs [Schools of Planning and Architecture]. In addition it has been decided to extend central assistance to the States for establishing 373 new degree colleges in Districts with GER less than the national average and provide assistance to set up 600 polytechnics including about 300 through PPP mode.
3. It is also proposed to launch a National Mission on Education through ICT [NMEICT] which inter alia provides broadband connectivity to all the institutions of higher and technical education, in the country. It is also proposed to incentivise the State Governments for starting new institutions of higher and technical education apart from expansion and development of the existing institutions. UGC is planning to give one time assistance for development of the State Universities and colleges not presently covered under Section 12 B of UGC Act on equal sharing basis with State Governments so that they become eligible for UGC grant under 12B of UGC Act. In the case of private aided institutions 20% contribution has been stipulated for the private trusts/societies with this being 10% in rural areas and 5% in tribal areas.
4. Implementation of these new initiatives would need active support and participation by the State Governments for them to be successful. The States will also have to considerably raise their spending on education if the target of public expenditure on education reaching 6% of GDP has to be achieved.
5. The discussions during the conference revolved around the new initiatives proposed to be undertaken in Higher and Technical Education during XI Plan, the rationale and strategy for educational reforms and the role of States in Higher and Technical Education in the implementation of new initiatives and reforms. On the first day of the Conference the Secretary (Higher Education), MHRD made a presentation highlighting new initiatives and reforms proposed to be taken up in XI Plan in Higher and Technical Education. Shri. Sukadeo Thorat, Chairman UGC and Shri.R.A.Yadav, Chairman AICTE made a presentation on Reforms and Initiatives made by UGC & AICTE in Higher and Technical Education. In addition, UGC appointed Pay Review Committee headed by Prof. G.K.Chaddha, Prof.M.M.Sharma Chairman of the Empowered Committee on strengthening Basic Research in Universities and Prof.Yashpal, Ex-Chairman of the UGC and Chairman of the MHRD appointed Committee on restructuring the UGC and AICTE made presentations on the work done by their committees followed by discussions.
6. The following broad consensus points emerged at the end of the deliberations in the two days Conference:-
i. Participants felt that discussions over the two days were very useful, and there were suggestions that such a Conference should be organized by way of follow up every 6 months. States have also suggested the need for a common platform, where they could discuss medical and other institutions along with the other higher and technical education sectors.
ii. It is gratifying to note that all States subscribe to the objectives of Access, Equity and Excellence in Higher and Technical Education. Most of the States conceded the need to strive for 6% of GDP and the Hon’ble Ministers have promised to go back and take it up appropriately.
iii. In respect of enhancing Access, many States want higher allocations to States with low GER without insisting their full share – however, it has been pointed out that in view of the limitations on the overall availability of funds, this could be possible only if some other schemes to such states are dropped, because of the non-availability of any additional funds. However, for the States in the NE Region, the MHRD will coordinate with the DONER to reduce the burden on the NE States.
iv. There was considerable agreement on the critical need to pay attention to quality of institutions and programmes. States were unanimously of the view that bad institutions with poor infrastructure should be closed down. There is a need to prepare a perspective plan for balanced development of the regions. AICTE should finalise this perspective plan urgently in consultation with State Governments. Thereafter the permissions of professional institutes may be granted by the regulatory authority considering State Governments recommendations. The AICTE should also permit diploma level courses to be run in engineering colleges during the second shift subject to availability of required faculty and other infrastructure. Some States have mentioned about the delays in approvals by the AICTE and also pointed to divergence in assessment of standards of some institutions by the AICTE and that of the affiliating universities. The Council would look into all such cases.
v. In respect of States’ involvement, it was resolved that States should be kept fully informed of the releases of grants to universities and colleges in the respective States, which are made by the UGC, and also the various approvals being granted by the AICTE. This would enable States to monitor the proper utilization of funds as well as the functioning of institutions. States also agreed to lay down transparent guidelines for dealing with applications of institutions applying for “Deemed University” status.
vi. It was discussed and agreed that States would make efforts to bifurcate and trifurcate the existing big universities so as to bring down the number of affiliated colleges to a manageable level of about 150 colleges. The UGC would give suitable assistance for starting Post Graduate Courses for the new universities. States also agreed that all universities must prepare perspective plans (academic, research and infrastructure) for their future growth and utilization of resources made available to them. States agreed to persuade State Universities to give permanent affiliation to colleges so that they become eligible for release of grants under Section 12 B of UGC Act.
vii. States agreed to set up State Councils of Higher Education, wherever there is no such Council at present, and also to set up a Committee to assess the requirement of faculty. States are also agreeable to have a clear plan of action for filling up all vacant positions of faculty. The MHRD would once again write to State Governments, not to have any direct/ indirect ban on teaching faculty and essential laboratory/ technical staff etc. Planning Commission would also be requested to review this at the time of Annual Plan discussions.
viii. The Conference endorsed the view expressed by Prof. Yash Pal on having porous boundaries and not water tight compartments between various disciplines, as knowledge/ technological innovations take place only on the boundaries of disciplines.
ix. In regard to reforms in technical education, it was resolved that AICTE should permit the co-existence of other non-AICTE mandated courses in the same premises (like B.Sc., BBA, BA etc.) with a view to optimize capacity utilization.
x. States have endorsed the urgent need to exploit opportunities through the use ICT, Many States have shown their willingness to share 25% of costs relating to Broad Band Connectivity, but the States in the NER expressed that their share be limited to 10% of the costs. States have shown great interest in the National Mission on Education through ICT, and have by and large agreed to support providing of Broad Band Connectivity and encourage convergence between Open and Distance Learning and the Conventional System.
xi. In regard to the Public – Private – Partnership model of investments and management of Higher and Technical Education, most of the States indicated their enthusiasm to tap not for profit private investment, for implementing the various XI Plan initiatives, ensuring that PPP should not lead to any erosion of access to poor sections of society. However, NER States were of the opinion that the PPP mode should not be insisted upon for the region. Some States have indicated their willingness to their share and to give land free of cost for the IIITs. However, the NER States expressed the view that the proposed IIITs should be established by the Central Government as they did not have industry required to participate in such projects.
xii. While unanimously endorsing the scheme to establishing colleges in districts with lower than the national average GER, some States wanted that the Central share may be made available through the CSS route, some other States felt that the UGC route of assistance to universities would be easier, while a few States preferred the Additional Central Assistance for the purpose.
xiii. States also expressed the need for the Central Government to pursue legislative initiatives for ensuring access with equity and controlling the fee charged by private institutions and institutions deemed to be universities.
xiv. States also drew attention to the need for regulating Foreign Education Providers and also regulation of distance education. States also want UGC to have suitable regulations for admissions and fee structure in deemed to be universities.
xv. It was also pointed out that in some States, some of the Minority Educational Institutions were really not acting in the best interests of the minorities. It was pointed out that the National Commission for Minority Education (NCME) was empowered to look into all such instances and take action.
xvi. All States unanimously agreed to bring “Research” into focus in the university system and pay due emphasis and encourage Research in all universities and also encourage affiliation of institutions desirous of taking up new emerging frontier areas of knowledge.
xvii. About Rs.20,000 crores is going to be earmarked for incentivising States for 373 degree colleges, new Universities, expansion, 1000 Polytechnics, bringing hitherto uncovered institutions under 12 ‘B’ of UGC Act etc. This would be allocated between the States/UTs based on population, GER and backwardness, who should send proposals for CSS/or through UGC.
xviii. States agreed to encourage and depute their teachers for summer training and other Refresher programmes being organised by AICTE & UGC for teachers and also agreed to take up the other faculty development measures on the lines indicated by MHRD.
xix. State Governments expressed their support and agreement to the need for reforms in examination system, introduction of semester system, streamlining of admission procedures, introduction of credit system to facilitate spatial and temporal movement of students. States also agreed to work towards voluntary/mandatory accreditation.
xx. States agreed to increase their efforts in eliminating ragging.
xxi. States agreed to take immediate action against ‘fake’ universities and dubious institutions under the Indian Penal Code.
xxii. States also agreed to instruct Registrars of Societies to consult UGC, whenever an application is received under the title of “University” or its regional synonyms; and to create public awareness against fake and dubious institutions and to accord priority in ensuring closure of these institutions that are defrauding gullible students and bringing the entire system into disrepute.