Overhaul of higher education on the cards

All institutes in the country may come under a uniform system

The Centre is pushing hard to ensure that its ambitious proposal of bringing all higher educational institutions of the country under a uniform system sees the light of the day before the 2014 general election.

The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry, which last year planned to formulate a national higher education qualification framework (NHEQF) to address compatibility and seamless recognition of qualifications across all institutions, has kept the proposal at the top of the agenda of the Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE) meeting scheduled for April 2.

HRD Minister M M Pallam Raju is all prepared to convince the CABE members that a committee should be immediately set up to examine the ministry’s proposal and make recommendations for “evolving” the NHEQF.

The minister is of the view that the CABE committee may, subsequently, constitute sub-committees comprising experts drawn from academics and representatives of the national level regulatory bodies and state governments. It is also expected that the committee will submit its reports along with those of the sub-committees within a timeframe so that the proposal does not get stalled, sources said.

The proposal, mooted by Raju’s predecessor Kapil Sibal, was listed in the agenda of the CABE’s last meeting, held in November last year. It, however, could not be brought up for discussion with the members of the highest advisory body on education.

“This is one of the major plans of the ministry to bring reforms in education sector. But, it could not be discussed in the last CABE meeting. There is an urgent need to formulate a standard framework for higher education amid the changing global scenario. We want to give it a final shape as early as possible because the government has only about a year left,” a ministry official told Deccan Herald.

The NHEQF “essentially” seeks to provide a standardised framework in terms of minimum entry qualification, programme duration, teaching learning processes and learning outcome aimed at national, and ultimately universal, acceptability, recognition and equivalence of not only the degrees but also the qualifications.

 “The essential purpose of NHEQF is to provide the broad framework within which individual universities and other degree-awarding higher educational institutions could design and develop the curricula, syllabi and modules without any external interference. They would enjoy their academic autonomy to the fullest extent, without adversely affecting the horizontal and vertical mobility of students,” the official said.

Citing the reason behind such a proposal, the ministry official said compatibility of higher educational qualifications with those of not only other countries but also within India has become important.

“The proposal is also significant to make India’s higher education system at par with other countries,” the official added.

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