Draft bill an attack on higher education in India

The Higher Education Draft Bill will expose education in the country to ideological manipulation, loss of much-needed diversity as well as academic standards, fee hikes, and profiteering.

Prakash Javdekar
Delhi: On June 27, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar announced that The Centre is set to replace the apex higher education regulator body University Grants Commission (UGC) with Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) by repealing the UGC Act, 1951.
Many people from the academia had criticised the move. Zoya Hasan, Professor Emerita, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University believes that it will dilute the diversity of education in India. In a letter to Javadekar, she said, “We believe that by withdrawing financial powers from the regulator and handing them over to the central government, and by giving the HECI unilateral and absolute powers to authorise, monitor, shut down, and recommend disinvestment from Higher Educational Institutions, the Draft Bill will expose higher education in the country to ideological manipulation, loss of much needed diversity as well as academic standards, fee hikes, and profiteering.”
“This is a matter of great to the members of the general public with an interest in higher education in India, especially students looking to study in colleges and universities in India and their parents; teachers working in both universities and colleges, including research scholars looking to enter teaching in the near future.
This is important because this might be the end of affordable public higher education in India, affecting MILLIONS of students and their futures,” she added.
 The proposed Higher Education Commission of India would focus solely on academic matters and monetary grants would be under the purview of the ministry, according to the draft. Presently, the University Grants Commission (UGC), which came into existence in 1953, provides financial assistance to eligible colleges. The new Act will be called the Higher Education Commission of India Act, 2018 (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act).The HRD Ministry has asked educationists, general public and other stakeholders to give comments and suggestions before 5 pm on July 7 on the draft, which has been released on its website. The highlights and the HRD’s stance can be found here.



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