Greater autonomy to 'good quality' educational institutions

Greater autonomy to 'good quality' educational institutions
The government on Wednesday pledged to grant “greater” administrative and academic autonomy to “good quality” higher educational institutions. “We will undertake reforms in the University Grants Commission (UGC).  Good quality institutions would be enabled to have greater administrative and academic autonomy,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. To give autonomous status, the institutions will be identified on the basis of their ranking and accreditation grade.

“A revised framework will be put in place for outcome-based accreditation and credit-based programmes,” he added. The minister announced a plan to set up ‘National Testing Agency’ as an autonomous and “self-sustained premier testing organisation” to conduct all entrance exams for higher education institutions.

“This would free the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and other premier institutions from the administrative responsibilities of holding entrance tests so that they can focus more on academics,” he said.  The Ministry of Human Resource Development saw an increase in its budgetary allocations by a little over 10% for 2017-18, compared to the last fiscal.

The finance minister earmarked nearly Rs 78,000 crore for the HRD ministry for 2017-18 against allocation of Rs 72,394 crore in 2016-17. The higher education department of the ministry saw about 15.56% increase in its allocation for 2017-18, compared to those made for the last fiscal, with finance ministry earmarking Rs 250 crore towards establishment and operationalisation of Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), announced last year.

For the proposed world-class institutions and prime minister’s girls’ hostels in higher education, the minister earmarked Rs 50 crore each. The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) also saw an increase in the central funding for the fiscal 2017-18 with the finance ministry earmarking Rs 800 crore, Rs 7,171 crore and Rs 3,280 crore to them respectively.

In his Budget speech, Jaitley proposed “leveraging” information technology and launching Swayam – India’s own Massive Online and Open Courses (Moocs) platform with at least 350 online courses to start with. The minister earmarked Rs 75 crore for this.
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