UGC loses money power to HRD Ministry
In the days to come, the University Grants Commission (UGC) will not have any financial powers. The Centre has decided to divest the higher education watchdog of its financial powers and delegate them to the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry.
Sources said the UGC will eventually function only as a certification body and termed the Government’s move as the first step towards higher education reforms. Seeking to effect the changes, the HRD Ministry last week signed a deal with Canara Bank to set up a Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) that would eventually take over UGC’s financial powers. The HEFA will start funding higher educational institutions, including IITs and IIMs, by the start of the next academic session.
The UGC receives funds from various sources, including maximum from HRD Ministry, Tribal Affairs Ministry, Minority Affairs, Social Justice and IGNOU. On an average the planned budget is Rs5,000 crore and under Non-plan Rs5,400 crore. For allocation pattern of funding includes 58 per cent to 40 Central Universities, about 13 per cent to State Universities, 3 per cent to Deemed Universities about 4 per cent towards scholarships amongst other miscellaneous expenditures.
The setting up of HEFA was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the last general Budget.
Sources said the Centre’s move comes in the wake of the UGC’s mishandling of issues related to Deemed Universities and its failure to revamp the higher education curriculum for years. And also, since a special committee set up by the Centre to examine various issues between the UGC and the HRD Ministry has recommended the “wresting of financial powers”.
The Centre had last year formed the special committee which was also tasked to suggest the future course of action. “It was formed to review the financial powers and regulations of Deemed Universities after complaints against the UGC. The committee recommended wresting financial powers from the UGC to which the Centre agreed,” said an HRD Ministry official.
But since the UGC was set up through an Act of Parliament, the move to rid UGC of its financial powers will be done through amendments in the UGC Act, the process for which has been initiated.
Sources, however, did not rule out the possibility of the Centre’s move leading to a controversy. “It could well be seen as the Government being out to gain control of the statutory body,” they said.
The UGC, ever since its inception four decades ago, has been responsible for disbursing and allocating funds to universities which was its main objective besides looking into academics. The power to punish the universities also lies with the Commission.
Modeled after the UGC United Kingdom, its Indian counterpart is a statutory body set up by the Parliament Act under the purview of the HRD. Currently, it is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education.
Besides, it provides recognition to universities in India and disburses funds to recognised universities and colleges.
Last week, as part of the mega reforms in the higher education sector, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had announced greater reforms in UGC where the thrust will be to give more autonomy to good institutes and “monitor mid-level and monitor more those in the lower rungs”.
He said the Centre will bring out a graded regulatory mechanism under the ambit of UGC.
Under the new format, all the universities will be graded for their courses, departments, curriculum, faculty, administration and overall performance annually. The grading system will be similar to the existing exercise being conducted by some of the private university ranking agencies. Currently, there is no rating agency of Indian university from the Government side and all are based on the public perception.
-The Pioneer|Deepak Kumar Jha | 13 February, 2017 | New Delhi