The top 20 per cent of higher education institutions in the country deserved more autonomy and the government would work towards exempting them from UGC’s review mechanism, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar told The Indian Express on Friday. Javadekar used the words “trust”, “free from government’s clutches” and a “fund and forget” philosophy to underline the policy.
All higher education institutions, Javadekar said, will be divided into three categories, with the top 20 per cent enjoying greater academic freedom, the next 40 per cent with relatively more regulations, and the remaining 40 per cent that will remain under the UGC’s regulatory control. The top 20 per cent will be chosen on the basis of the NAAC grading system scores.
“Trust is important,” Javadekar said. “Educational institutes of eminence across the world are free from government clutches. The Parliament and the government (in our country) are now following a new philosophy of fund and forget.” He said: “The top 20 per cent on the institutions will have close to 80 per cent of the academic freedom that we have agreed to bestow on IIMs under the new IIM Bill, which is tabled in Parliament.”
The plan to set up 20 world-class institutions — 10 government-run and 10 private — also fits into the above philosophy, according to Javadekar. The 20 will be known as “institutions of eminence”. “By April 2018, these 20 world-class institutions will come into being. I’m doing weekly follow-up (meetings) of all developments. The advertisement (calling for applications) will be issued this month. Meanwhile, an empowered committee will be constituted by a group that would have the cabinet secretary, higher education secretary and the UGC chairman,” he said.
Javadekar said this group “will identify five to six persons of eminence who will vet applications and choose the 20 world-class institutions…. We’ll give them three months for this.” The Institutions of Eminence, also mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech, will be set up through a UGC regulation that will provide an enabling architecture to them to emerge as world-class institutions as the country has little representation in international rankings.
When asked if the merger of the AICTE and UGC was part of the ministry’s plan to move towards greater autonomy for educational institutions, Javadekar said there was no such proposal with the government at this moment.