Highlights of the Bill
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- The Bill seeks to establish the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), a General Council and a Collegium of Scholars. It repeals the UGC Act, 1956, the AICTE Act, 1987, and the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993.
- The NCHER shall take steps for the promotion and coordination of higher education and research.
- Every degree granting institution established after the enactment of this law has to be authorised by the NCHER to begin its first academic operation. The NCHER may revoke authorisation on certain grounds.
- The Collegium shall prepare a directory of academics eligible for appointment as Vice Chancellors of central educational institutions (except a college). The NCHER shall maintain this directory.
- The Higher Education Financial Services Corporation (HEFSC) shall disburse grants to institutions based on norms specified by NCHER.
- The performance of the NCHER shall be reviewed every five years by a committee appointed by the President.
Key Issues and Analysis
- The Bill aims to promote autonomy of higher educational institutions. However, certain provisions of the Bill impede such autonomy. For instance, requirement of permission from NCHER to enrol students.
- Some key recommendations of committees such as NKC and Yash Pal Committee have not been incorporated in the Bill. For example, allowing the regulator to give degree granting powers to an institution.
- The Bill separates the functions of grant disbursal and regulation of HEIs. However, the NCHER retains the function of specifying norms for disbursal of funds. Also, a member of NCHER is the non-executive Chairman of the HEFSC. This differs from NKC’s recommendation.
- One of the functions of the General Council is to assess the performance of NCHER. The Council includes the Chairperson and all members of NCHER. This may hamper an objective assessment of the performance of NCHER.
- The National Commission for Human Resource for Health Bill, (NCHRH), pending in Parliament, proposes a regulator for health education. There is an overlap between the functions of NCHER and the NCHRH.
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