Plan for new education body hits snag

Most states say that such a regulatory agency against federal principles

Plan for new education body hits snag

Education comes under the Concurrent List

The setting up of National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), which would give approval to universities, would be against federal principles as education is in the concurrent list.

“States have complained that this is against federal principles. They are saying this is centralisation of education,” an academician associated with the nation-wide consultation exercise on the Bill, told reporters.

The HRD Ministry has prepared a draft law for the NCHER as an overarching body in higher education, replacing the existing regulatory bodies like the University Grants Commission, the All India Council of Technical Education and the National Council for Teachers’ Education.

In the context of opposition from the states, the NCHER Bill would be redrafted and would be introduced in Parliament in the monsoon session, an official source said.
According to the draft Bill, the proposed body will specify norms and standards for grant of authorisation to a university or a higher educational institution to commence its academic operations. No university or institution empowered by or under law to award any degree or diploma established after coming into force of this Act shall commence academic operations unless it is so recognised, it said.

The NCHER will maintain a national registry with names of eligible persons for the post of vice chancellors. In case of vacancy, the NCHER will suggest five names from the registry for the post.

A task force, set up by the HRD Ministry, held nation-wide consultations during which representatives of various state governments opposed these two provisions. However, Planning Commission member Narendra Jadhav dismissed the opposition of the states saying they would be adequately represented in the new apex body.

Referring to the appointment policy of vice chancellors, which would become more transparent once the NCHER Bill comes into effect, Jadhav said: “Now there is no clear-cut policy on the appointment of V-Cs in the deemed universities. We are proposing a different system. All states and universities can nominate their own people. Individuals can nominate people. The NCHER will scrutinise the names and then it will put the names of the suitable candidates on the website and in the national registry”.

“Nobody is making it compulsory for the states to appoint anybody as a V-C. When your search committee makes informal search, they can take five names from the national registry. If you find these five are not worthy, you can take another five names. But nobody can become a V-C unless his or her name figures in the national registry,” Jadhav said.

The second provision that every university before it start operation will have to get permission from the NCHER is aimed at improving quality, Jadhav said. The NCHER will not give them permission unless they are accredited and assessed. Many universities in the states do not have adequate infrastructure at present, Jadhav said.

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