Jasleen Kaur | November 11, 2010
A package of bills, to bring reform in the higher education sector will soon be tabled in Parliament. At the higher education conference organized by the FICCI, higher education secretary at the human resource development miinistry Vibha Puri Das said that the bills are designed to create a robust educational environment in the country.
“Our focus is on access, equity and governance reforms. And through these bills framework has been put into place,” she added.
Das said the commercialisation of education has led to challenges which the ministry will try to meet through these bills. She added that there are six new bills in the pipeline, including National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) - an autonomous overarching authority for higher education. This will end multiplicity of regulation by replacing education regulators like the UGC, the AICTE and other councils regulating higher education institutions.
Prof Madhava Menon, who has endeavored to put Indian legal education at par with the developed countries, said NCHER will end the tension between the autonomy of institutions and their accountability. He added, “With NCHER bill central government is withdrawing its power of controlling the institutions by mandatory voluntary disclosure. Soon states will also follow.”
The other bill is to prevent, prohibit and punish educational malpractices, which is at present examined by the standing committee.
Another bill in the pipeline is the Foreign Education Providers bill. At present foreign educational institutions are allowed to partner Indian institutions to offer courses. Das said, “With this bill the foreign education institutions will be allowed to set up campuses here.” This bill is awaiting parliamentary scrutiny.
Prof M Anandkrishnan, chairman IIT Kanpur who has also worked with the government on these bills said, “We know that universities like Harvard, Oxford will not come here because these institutions can not be replicated. They will only be interested in collaborations. But this bill will help institutions, which are good but not at the centre stage, to set up campuses here.”
The other two legislative initiatives aims at having a tribunal to deal with higher education disputes and setting up of a national accreditation agency.
Das said that the ministry is hopeful that before the budgetary session these bills will be cleared.
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