Panel for funding state higher education depts directly

The states share of expenditure is about 67 per cent of the total cost

A committee of the Central Advisory Council on Education (CABE) has recommended that Central fund on higher education should be sent to state education departments instead of giving it to universities directly or through University Grants Commission (UGC).

“A paradigm shift is needed in the manner the state universities and colleges are funded and supported by the Central government. In place of sending Central funds directly or via UGC for universities and colleges across states, Central funding should be done for the state higher education system as a whole,” it said in its report.

Such a plan should take a holistic view and take within its purview Central as well as private institutions, so that all three segments of higher education within the state can develop to bring about a quantifiable change, it added.

To buttress its point, the committee said the states were “units for planned and coordinated development” of higher education. The central funding could be used to induce them to increase government spending on higher education and enable them to expand their higher education capacity aligned to the growing demand from students coming out of schools.

The higher education enrolment in regular courses is expected to increase from the current 200 lakh in 2011-12 to 300 lakh by the end of the 12th five year plan (2016-17).

Of the current enrolment, about 180 lakh is in the universities and colleges and the remaining 20 lakh in non-degree awarding institutions.

While the Central plan outlays have been increased to over 10 times of the actual expenditure during the 10th five year plan, the higher education sector could be “meaningfully” impacted only if the states are also induced in making proportionately higher investments.

“At present, the states’ share of expenditure on higher education is around 67% of the total expenditure on higher education,” the panel underlined.

The circumstances and the level of development of higher education vary widely across the states. “Due to this diversity, state institutions should be subjected to only one type of intervention and support,” it said, citing another reason for giving central fund to state education departments. It said the system of funding state higher education systems should be built on a sustainable model. Focus should also be given to attracting private investment and internal generation of resources.

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