Centre approves aid to improve higher education
The stage is set for a major overhaul in the higher education sector with the Centre on Thursday approving an ambitious scheme of assisting states to spruce up their universities and colleges responsible for educating 96 per cent of the country’s students.
The Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) will provide grants for infrastructure development, especially libraries and laboratories, at 150 state varsities and 3,500 colleges in various states to help them achieve quality standards. It will also support filling of 5,000 faculty positions in the remaining three years of the 12th Five Year Plan.
In the current Plan period, 80 new universities are proposed to be set up by converting autonomous colleges or colleges in a cluster to state universities under the flagship scheme of the United Progressive Alliance. One hundred new colleges, including both professional and technical, will be set up and 54 existing colleges converted into model degree colleges under the programme. The centre will bear a major part of the implementation cost with the states having to chip in only 35 per cent.
North-Eastern states, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand will have to foot just 10 per cent of the total expenditure, which has an estimated outlay of Rs 98,134 crore for 12th and 13th Plan period.
RUSA stipulates “strategic funding” to states to ensure access, equity and quality are addressed.
Allocations will be norm based and the fund flow from the centre will depend on the performance of the states which will have to prepare a detailed perspective plan and stick to the claims made. To avail the benefits of the scheme, the states are required to fulfill some of the pre-requisites. Each state government will have to set up higher education council and create agencies for accrediting higher education institutions. They will also have to fill the vacant faculty positions.
“A sum of Rs 10 crore will be disbursed to the states right away as preparatory funds,” said R P Sisodia, Joint Secretary of the HRD Ministry, who played a key role in the formulation of RUSA since it was conceived one-and-a-half years back.