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Govt. approves umbrella body for higher education


Govt. approves umbrella body for higher educationTHE UNION GOVERNMENT has cleared a proposal to set up an umbrella body to supervise and monitor all aspects of higher education in universities and technical institutes, including distance education, but excluding medical and agriculture education. The body, to be called the National Commission of Higher Education and Research (NCHER), will cover all areas and disciplines, including general, technical and professional education, will take over regulatory bodies like the University Grants Commission (UGC), the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Council of Distance Education. A draft bill that provides for the establishment of the NCHER was approved by the Union Cabinet at its meeting in the capital on December 20th. The commission will have a 70-member general body, with representation from every state and regulatory bodies. It will also have an 11-member executive committee to implement the decisions of the general body. The commission will have the mandate to bring reforms in higher education and for setting up quality institutions across the country. The objective is to increase the gross enrolment ratio from 20 per cent now to 30 per cent by 2020. Agriculture has not been included as it is a state subject and cannot be covered under a central law. Medical education has also not been included, on a request from the Ministry of Health. Besides, the cabinet recently approved a similar body for medical education. Once the NCHER comes into existence, it is expected to bring about a shift from a multiple approval based approach to self-regulation based on accreditation. It will also lay down norms for quality in academics and research for universities and colleges for accreditation. The NCHER will also allocate funds for higher education to institutions on the basis of performance rather than demand, and will have powers to decide the curricula of different streams of higher education and research. The proposal to set up the NCHER is based on the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission and the Prof. Yash Pal Committee. Even President Pratibhatai Patil had declared the government’s intent in this regard in her address to the joint sitting of the two Houses of the Parliament on June 4, 2009.


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