Panel favours funding agency for higher education

Task force lays stress on standard in colleges and universities

The task force met here on Tuesday to complete the final draft of the NCHER bill after nationwide consultations, likely to be placed before Parliament in the monsoon session.

Introducing changes to the earlier draft, the task force said the NCHER, to enjoy the powers of a civil court, should focus only on framing policies and ensuring quality in the colleges and universities across the country. It should not be involved in providing funds to institutions as specified in the earlier draft, official sources said.

The task force members felt that service delivery should be separated from policy making, and hence the proposal for a separate funding agency. The agency would prepare annual funding support plan for colleges and universities, and establish norms for block grants, they said. The funding agency would function as an inter-university centre and allocate and release funds to institutions.

The draft bill had initially entrusted these responsibilities with the NCHER, which would replace existing regulatory bodies like UGC, All India Council of Technical Education and National Council for Teachers’ Education.

The task force also took note of the concerns raised by certain states including Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu on a few key clauses in the bill. The bill provisions opposed by the states included the need for a new university to get an NCHER authorisation to start functioning and the appointment of vice chancellors from a national registry.

The registry would be maintained by the NCHER, based on recommendations of ‘eligible persons’ by a collegium, to aid the Commission for coordination and promotion of higher education. The universities could choose their pick from the five names in the registry that the NCHER suggested for any vacancies of vice chancellors.

But after the objections raised by the states, the task force said the condition of appointment from the registry would be mandatory only for central universities. State universities would be free to appoint vice chancellors as per their regulations. But the NCHER collegium will scrutinise the appointment.

The government would further discuss the bill with the Central Advisory Board of Education, the highest advisory body on education matters, on June 18 and 19, the sources said.

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