Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) Bill, 2018
HOT ISSUES FOR MAINS(TOPIC #13)(SecureIas Initiative)
HECI will be in charge of ensuring academic quality in universities and colleges.
- Regulator will have powers to enforce compliance to the academic quality standards and will have the power to order closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions + UGC ensured a separation of funding decisions from political considerations.
- Clear separation between academic functions and grant-giving ones.
- Ministry has taken the direct control of the allocations to be made to the universities which will clearly convert the universities into government departments + Government should have first called the debate for scrapping UGC + The UGC, it is argued, is preoccupied with disbursing funds and is unable to concentrate on mentoring higher education institutes, focus on research, and implement other quality measures required in the education sector.
- HECI will focus solely on academic matters while grants will be issued by the Ministry. + sweeping powers render the HECI more authoritative than the collective strength of campus authorities.
- HECI with its mandate of improving academic standards with a specific focus on learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, and training of teachers, the HECI is likely to over regulate and micromanage universities + the proposal to empower the Center to remove the HECI’s chairperson and vice-chairperson for reasons including “moral turpitude” will again curtail the regulator’s autonomy, which in turn will impact the autonomy of universities + instead of allowing institutions to evolve over time based on their specific needs, focusing on homogeneous, one-size-fits-all administrative models will go against the ethos of academic freedom, diversity, and knowledge production, and will help attempts to corporatise the education sector + the move to replace the UGC with the HECI points to the Centre’s aim to restrict the role of the States in matters relating to education.
Key differences between the proposed Higher Education Commission of India from the present University Grants Commission:
UGC: It disburses grants to Central institutions out of its funds
HECI: It will specify standards for grant of authorization to a university or higher educational institution to commence its academic operations
UGC: It is mandated to promote and coordinate university education and determine and maintain standards of teaching, examination and research.
HECI: It will specify standards for grant of authorization to a university of higher educational institution to commence its academic operations.
UGC: To assess financial needs or standards of teaching in an institution, UGC conducts periodic inspections
HECI: No inspections.The body will prescribe norms on academic performance by higher educational institutions.
Action on bogus institutions
UGC: Affiliations of colleges to universities can be terminated for contravention of its regulations. It can withhold grants to universities for violations of its regulations. It occasionally publishes lists of bogus institutions.
HECI: It will be empowered to penalize or even shut down sub-standard institutions without affecting students’ interests. If the management of the institution does not comply with the penalties, they can land in jail for up to three years.
UGC: Has a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman, and 10 members appointed by the Central government, some ex-official members and some from academia, industry. The Chairman’s retirement age is 65 and has a term of 5 years, with an extension of additional 5 years.
HECI: It shall comprise a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, and 12 members to be appointed by the Centre, including educationists and a member of the industry. The Chairperson’s retirement age is 70, will hold office for five years.
UGC: In case of any dispute between the Centre and the UGC on policy, the Centre prevails.
HECI: The Centre prevails in case of any dispute between the Centre and the HECI on policy.
Regular staff:The UGC appoints its own staff. The same will apply to the HECI as well. The present staff of UGC will be re-trained to work on fully digital mode — without physical files — at HECI.
By: Ashish Kumar + Sugam Bansal