UGC Reforms

Facts:

  • The number of universities has multiplied 40 times since UGC establishment
  • Student enrolment has increased a hundred fold since UGC establishment
Negatives in UGC:
  • Unpopular decisions:
    • Increase in teaching hours of the faculty and its subsequent cancellation
    • Implementation of the choice-based credit semester system in Delhi University, and the decision to discontinue
    • UGC non-NET scholarship for MPhil and PhD students and its abandonment after protests
  • UGC is understaffed. This affects the commission while disbursing grants and fellowships thereby affecting quality standards
  • Its policies also suffer from two diametrically opposite issues—under-regulation and over-regulation. While it lets smaller substandard institutions slip by as deemed universities, it also instigates witch-hunts against reputed deemed universities
Why has UGC failed?
  • Constituted by all kinds of members other than academics, UGC operates in an ad hoc working structure with no coordination due to lack of knowledge about regional offices, bureaus, disciplines and activities.
  • It is unable to adopt new measures for enhancing student mobility and internationalisation in higher education.
  • Measures for reinvigorating the teaching environment in universities and colleges and measures for enhancing quality research and ushering in a climate of innovation in higher education are also not taken into account.
  • It has also deviated from its core goal of being a watchdog for ensuring excellence in education and is accused of indulging in favouritism
What has been suggested?
T.S.R. Subramanian committee’s recommendation in the National Education Policy:
  • UGC could be revamped
  • UGC should be made considerably leaner and thinner
  • UGC could be the nodal point for administration of the proposed National Higher Education Fellowship Programme, without any other promotional or regulatory function.
What is the way forward?
  • It is doubtful if scrapping UGC or any institution is the remedy needed for India’s higher education system.
  • The Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011, introduced in the UPA regime, was discarded for non-consultation with states, violation of institutional autonomy and so forth.
  • We need to evolve a fool proof system after consultations with all stakeholders.