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Photo: AP
Photo: AP

All higher education regulators including UGC, AICTE will be merged in 2021

  • Higher education secretary Amit Khare said introduction of a single entrance test for admission into all central universities will be executed
  • India is home to one of the largest higher education sector with over 1000 universities and over 50,000 colleges and institutions

New Delhi: Looking to accelerate education reforms, the union government Friday said it will merge all the higher education regulators including the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All Indian Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to create a single education commission in 2021.

Higher education secretary Amit Khare said that structural reform in the education sector will happen in 2021 and several reforms including the merger of education regulators, and introduction of a single entrance test for admission into all central universities, will be executed.

“When will these changes come -- you will see them in 2021 itself. In the education sector, you have UGC, then for technical courses (you have) the AICTE, for teacher education there is NCTE -- all of them will get merged. And in the next academic session we'll be having one single Higher Education Commission of India," Khare said at the FICCI annual convention Friday.

The merger of the higher education regulator, considered a big reform in the education space was being debated for years. And authorities and academics have been arguing, how multiple regulatory system in the education sector is fostering red tape, and hindering its growth. Even the new education policy announced in July had touched upon the need for it. Besides, the merger of the education regulators was also an election agenda of the ruling BJP during the 2014 general elections.

India is home to one of the largest higher education sector with over 1000 universities and over 50,000 colleges and institutions but quality of education has been patchy.

Khare said a single entrance exam for admission into all central universities is coming in 2021 and “the academic credit bank, through which one can transfer credits from one university to another, that is also (coming in) 2021". The secretary said, the “multiple entry and exit system that we are introducing" will allow a student to “take a sabbatical for a year, come back and join the system without losing out on the credits that she or he has already earned".

Talking about private sectors role and how the government views them, the secretary said private players in higher education will get a similar treatment as their government peers in terms of access to R&D funding, regulations and structural change requirements. He said the benchmarking will happen based on performance instead of taking into account the governance structure.

“I want to raise about the ease of doing business or how the private sector is view. Now, the policy now has very clearly mentioned the role of private sector. They are not to be profiteering but reasonable surpluses have to be generated. It is obvious that no enterprise would be able to operate. If reasonable surpluses are not generated. A very important change which this policy has brought in, is to balance the regulatory structures for the private as well as public," he said in the secretaries’ panel at the FICCI convention.

“Right now, … the deemed-to-be-universities have a different structure, the state universities, private universities (have a different structure). What the policy emphasizes is that governance model should be the same. And all institution should be benchmarked on the basis of their academic performance and not on the basis of the ownership, that whether it is centrally funded or state funded or private funded," he explained.

He further said that entire system will be now be output based and outcome based, and not based on the input like how much land does one university possess etc. The secretary said the proposed National Research Fund (NRF) as envisaged in the new education policy, will promote competitive funding of research based on proposals submitted by universities individually or collectively irrespective of whether they are private run or public run. “It is possible that private university may get the funding and Central University may not. If a proposal is not good," he argued.

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