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Yashpal wants a super regulator,  death to deemed varsities

Yashpal's report

: 82-year-old Prof Yashpal and his committee members have, in their report to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, suggested the scrapping of all higher education regulatory/monitoring bodies and creation of a super regulator : a seven-member Commission for Higher Education and Research (CHER).

The committee in its final report, submitted to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on June 24, recommended that the deemed university status be abandoned and that all deserving deemed varsities be either converted full-fledged universities or scrapped -- and a GRE like test be evolved for university education.

The committee said a plethora of regulatory bodies like UGC, AICTE, NCTE et al be replaced by a seven-member Commission for Higher Education and Research (CHER) under an Act of Parliament. It has also recommended, obviously to buffer the new regulator against political pressures, that the position of chairperson of the proposed commission be analogous to that of election commissioners.

It also said that the jurisdiction of other regulators -- Medical Council of India, Bar Council of India and others -- be confined to administrative matters, with universities taking up their academic responsibilities.

Finalised on June 22 given to HRD Minister Kapil Sibal on June 24, the report said that IITs and IIMs should be encouraged to diversify and expand their scope to work as full-fledged universities.

The panel also proposed a national testing scheme for university admissions on the lines of GRE open to all aspirants and to be held more than once a year.

The proposed CHER, the report said, should first identify India's 1,500 top colleges to upgrade them as universities and then create clusters of potentially good colleges to evolve as universities. Also, all levels of teacher education should be brought under the purview of higher education.

Expressing concern on the mushrooming of engineering and management colleges, that had "largely become business entities dispensing very poor quality education", Yashpal committee lamented the growth of deemed universities and called for a complete ban on further grant of such status. Existing ones, the committee said, should be given three years to develop as a university and fulfil the prescribed accreditation norms.

Raising doubts about the source of funding of private education providers, the committee said mostly it was either "unaccounted wealth from business and political enterprises or from capitation fees". It said the system of conferring academic designations as chancellors and vice-chancellors to members of the promoter's family should be done away with. They should
submit to a national accreditation system. However, the committee underlined the need for private investment in higher education.

The committee has also criticised the UPA government’s policy of setting up IIMs and IITs indiscriminately, saying that mere numerical expansion, without any understanding of symptoms of poor education, would not help.

Terming the government’s indiscriminate establishment of educational institutes as a “nervous and hurried response”, the panel said in its report: “Creation of a few institutions of excellence and some Central universities, without addressing the issue of deprivation that the state-funded universities are suffering from, would only sharpen the existing inequalities.”

The committee found that many private educational institutes in the country deny full salaries to their teachers and indulged in “unethical practices” of impounding certificates and passports of its faculty.

With respect to the fee structure, the committee said many private institutions charged exorbitant fees, beyond the prescribed norms and were unable to provide even minimum competent faculty strength.

An institution working with the motive of profit did not have the right to be called a university, the committee felt.

Recommending curricular reform, the committee said teachers should have the freedom to design courses and students should be able to study subjects outside their courses.

Of the seven members of the proposed CHER, one should be an eminent professional from the world of industry. Chairperson and members should be selected by a committee headed by the PM, Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India. Commission will have five divisions dealing with future directions, accreditation management, funding and development and new
institutions. An eminent individual should head each division for five years, the committee suggested.

The Committee

The committee met on June 22 to adopt the 43-page final report.

The committee has, in its interim report, suggested "creation of an all-encompassing Commission for Higher Education, a central statutory body to replace the existing regulatory bodies" like the University Grants Commission, the Medical Council of India, All India Council for Technical Education, NCTE et al.

The proposed autonomous statutory body will comprise six members and a chairman appointed by the President. State Higher Education Councils, along the lines of those existing in West Bengal, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, will form the second tier of the system.

Taking a firm stand against the liberal granting of deemed university status by the UGC in recent years, the Committee recommended that approval for deemed universities be stopped forthwith. Further, all existing ones must submit to new accreditation norms within three years failing which they ought to lose their deemed university status.

There has been considerable misuse of Section 3 of the UGC Act that frames the guidelines for according deemed university status, the report states. “In the last five years, 36 institutions, excluding RECs, have been notified as deemed universities, raising concerns that a majority of these institutes are not established with any educational purpose,” the interim report report states. From 1956-90 only 29 institutions were permitted, whereas 63 institutes have been granted deemed university status in the last 15 years.

The committee has stressed the need for more attention to under-graduate programmes and a multi-disciplinary approach to learning.

The IITs and IIMs, “which are bright spots in the otherwise dismal higher education scenario” should, while keeping intact their unique features, expand their academic reach to include the humanities and arts, and function as full-fledged universities.

The committee recommends that all research bodies connect with universities in their vicinity, and that all universities combine teaching and research.

Pointing to the practice of private managements running educational institutions as profit making enterprises, the committee stressed the need for “different layers of institutions” in the sector, including state-run, private and those established under public-private partnerships.

On the contentious issue of the entry of foreign universities, the committee strikes a cautious note. “Giving an open license to all and sundry, carrying a foreign ownership tag to function like universities in India, most of them not even known in their own countries, would only help them earn profit for their parent institutions located outside or accrue profit to the shareholders. Such institutions must give an Indian degree and be subject to all rules and regulations that would apply to any Indian university,” the committee states.

UGC, AICTE chiefs defend their forts

NEW DELHI : On April 6 the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) expressed reservations on the recommendations of the Yashpal committee which suggested dismantling of regulatory bodies in higher education.

The UGC has said that reforms, rather than closure, is the need of the hour.
Responding to the recommendation of the Yashpal Committee, appointed by the commission to suggest reforms in higher education, UGC chairman Sukhadeo Thorat has reportedly said that efforts should be to identify and plug existing loopholes in the AICTE and the Medical Council of India rather than dismantling them.

The committee headed by former UGC chairman Yashpal had suggested that all the regulatory bodies should be scrapped and a higher education commission be set up to monitor different aspects of higher education. But this idea did not get support from the UGC and the AICTE at a consultation meeting held here on April 6 to discuss the major recommendations of the committee on “Renovation and Rejuvenation of Universities.”

AICTE chairman R A Yadav maintained that the Yash Pal Committee should go into the details of the functioning of the regulatory body before suggesting its replacement.

The recommendation to set up a higher education commission was first made in 1964 Kothari Commission and was subsequently discussed at several meetings of the Central Advisory Board chaired by Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh.

Single autonomous body

It was also suggested by Knowledge Commission headed by Sam Pitroda who was in favour of a single autonomous body to regulate all education.

In his recommendations to the Prime Minister, Pitroda said the current system “is over-regulated but under-governed” and there was a “clear need for an independent regulatory authority for higher education (IRAHE).” The IRAHE, Pitroda added, must be at an arm’s length from the government and independent of all stake-holders, including the government. The Knowledge Commission suggested that the IRAHE could be set up by an Act of Parliament and would be the only agency authorised to accord degree-granting power to higher education institutions. It would be responsible for setting the criteria and deciding the entry and would apply the same norms to public and private institutions.

The Yashpal committee in its interim report had suggested that the higher education commission would create appropriate norms, processes and structures for accreditation of institutions providing higher education -- both general and professional.

It also called for doing away with the deemed university system, divesting professional course regulators like the AICTE and the Medical Council of India of all academic functions and expanding IITs and IIMs to fullfledged varsities.  


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