Panel for surcharge on excise duty to fund student scholarships

If the government implements the recommendations of a high-level panel on higher education, students in the State could soon get their scholarships and educational loans from a single-window agency with funds generated by levying a surcharge on excise duty on liquor.

In its report, a 11-member mission group headed by technocrat T V Mohandas Pai, has recommended that the State government set up a “Karnataka Student Scholarship and Loan Authority” to coordinate, disburse and manage scholarships and loans to students who pursue higher education in Karnataka.

The authority, the expert panel has suggested, could identify and encourage deserving and needy students in a transparent manner for providing scholarships and educational loans. The panel has recommended that the initial corpus fund could be created by levying a surcharge of five per cent on excise duty imposed on liquor.  With the Excise department mobilising around Rs 10,000 crore per annum, a five per cent surcharge would generate Rs 500 a year.

The recommendation is part of host of measures suggested by the mission group set up by the Karnataka Knowledge Commission to provide a road map to the State government to achieve excellence in higher education. The report was submitted to the State government on December 28.

The mission group has recommended that the government allow universities to float long term 10-year bonds for creating or improving academic and hostel infrastructure. The bonds should be guaranteed by the State, while the interest on the bonds would be paid by universities from in-house resources such as  fee collection.

The panel is keen that a sum of Rs 5,000 crore in the form of bonds over the next five years be allocated for the purpose.

“The inflow of funds would bring the infrastructure of universities on par with the best in India”, the report states.

Another major policy measure suggested by the group is the establishment of an independent academy at the state level on a public private partnership basis for all issues pertaining to teachers, including recruitment, induction training, capacity building and performance assessment.

 “The academy should create a one-year MBA programme in academic administration to develop capacity for leadership in universities and colleges. All heads of higher educational institutions should undergo this course in order to increase their efficiency and build professional capacity among them,” the report states.

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