Rs 400 cr dedicated to create 'world-class institutes'

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (PTI File Photo)

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced the allocation of Rs 400 crore to create “world-class institutions” in the field of education for the financial year 2019-20. She proposed to strengthen the government's ‘Study in India’ programme which seeks to increase the number of foreign students in the country's higher education institutions.

While presenting the Union Budget in Parliament, she added that the regulatory systems of the higher education would be reformed “comprehensively” to promote greater autonomy and focus on better academic outcomes.

Draft legislation for setting up the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) would be presented “in the year ahead,” she said.

The Minister also proposed that a National Research Foundation (NRF) will be set up to fund, coordinate and promote research in the country.

“The NRF will assimilate the research grants being given by various Ministries independent of each other and ensure that the overall research eco-system in the country is strengthened with focus on identified thrust areas relevant to our national priorities and towards basic science without duplication of effort and expenditure,” Sitharaman said in her speech.

The government will work out “a very progressive” and research-oriented structure for the NRF.

“The funds available with all Ministries will be integrated into NRF. This would be adequately supplemented with additional funds,” she added.

The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry saw an increase in its overall budgetary allocations by 11.57% for 2019-20 over that of the last fiscal.

Of the overall budgetary allocations for the HRD ministry for 2019-20 which came at Rs 94853.64 crore against that of Rs 85,010.29 crore in the last fiscal, the Finance Ministry earmarked Rs 56,536.63 crore to the school education and adult literacy department for this fiscal against that of Rs 50,000 crore in the last fiscal, which showed an increase by 13.07%.

The budgetary allocations for the higher education department of the HRD ministry for this fiscal came at Rs 38317.01 crore for this fiscal against that of Rs 35,010.29 crore earmarked in 2018-19, showing an increase by 9.44%.

Besides, the government has made available Rs 15,000 crore through extra-budgetary resources using the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), a non-banking organisation set up by the government to provide loan to the higher education institutions for infrastructure development projects, particularly those for the establishment of a “world class” research laboratories.

“The government has provided additional equity of Rs 2,100 crore to HEFA to enable it to mobilise the required funds for building high-quality infrastructure in higher educational institutions,” the HRD ministry said in a statement.

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