[op-ed snap] Moral economy of a university


  1. Indians are poor at institution-building
  2. We treat institutions cosmetically, applying the latest management gloss or creating a fetish of numbers like the ritual of rankings
  3. Today an institution such as the university is in crisis and yet there is no systematic response, no reflexivity and no sense of loss
  4. The university reflects both a failure of sociological analysis and of storytelling
  5. Death by neglect, death by illiteracy seems to be the quiet chorus

Like a plaything:

  1. S.R. Subramanian Committee report is an effort to understand the university as a bureaucracy
  2. It has no sense of the university as a knowledge system, or as a community of scholars producing ideas
  3. The university has become a plaything, either in the hands of politicians who see in it a reservoir of electoral politics or in the hands of bureaucrats
  4. What we need today is a report of the university by university teachers, people who nurture students, people who understand what it means to be a Third World academic in a populist era where the Indian university is expected to be instantly world class on a zero-cost system

Recent struggle:

  1. One has to begin by challenging the current assault on the university
  2. In fact, one has to rewrite the contract between the university and society
  3. The recent battles at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the talk fests, the debates showed that the public university has the resilience to fight back, to defend the moral economy of the university
  4. What was impressive about the JNU struggle was the solidarity between faculty and students, a shared vision of the university as a critical space for the democratic imagination
  5. Yet, the JNU struggle opened the raw wounds of the university
  6. Today, the state believes that the universities should be starved, and in that impoverished status, it encourages a few acts to be conspicuous consumption
  7. Accountability and responsibility are extremely important
  8. The broader vision of a modern university is lost as we convert them to tutorial colleges of the mind

An element of craft:

  1. Teaching and research have a craft element, where the ritual of learning has to be internalised in tacit ways
  2. It has to be emphasised that the university is a rite of passage, an initiation into a way of learning
  3. The experts of today do not understand the care, the nurturance, the rigour and the gestation period this requires: Writing a research paper is literally rewriting a research paper many times
  4. Learning a craft is not a downloaded act. It requires a sense of heuristics, of alternatives
  5. Acquiring a skill is an art form, not a job for prefabricated educationists
  6. Craft needs a face-to-face encounter, a sense of love, a skill, technique that demands time
  7. The university is the last of the craft systems and to destroy teaching and research as crafts is to destroy a university

Questions of renewal:

  1. Knowledge should be free but education is not and our politicians with their populism think education is zero cost, where hostels are treated as langars
  2. No one talks about maintenance, the renewal, the sustainability of the university
  3. Its richness as a commons demands that we sustain it as a commons, and no commons can survive without diversity, dissent and marginality
  4. A university is a nursery for the availability of eccentricity, for dissenting imaginations
  5. To punish it for what it naturally produces is an act of political misunderstanding the future will not condone

Indian education:

  1. One realises that the Indian state, after hiring a quick consultant reproducing the latest fad abroad, has little interest in education
  2. Its understanding of values as something ancient or revivalist is even more lethal
  3. The university as an institution of civil society, as a defining core of craft and professionalism must now produce its own report, a restatement of its charging condition and its changing self


The op-ed focuses on the educational institutes and universities of India and is important for Essay writing. The op-ed is also just another “opinion” and you need to be selective on what to pick up from here for your mains content.

Universities to compete with IITs, IIMs in rankings

  1. News: Central and State universities will have to compete with institutions like Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management in this year’s official rankings of higher education institutions, which will be released early in April
  2. The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) was put in place by the Ministry of Human Resource Development last year
  3. But the first NIRF ranked engineering colleges, business schools and universities in three separate categories
  4. This year, there will be a common list of all institutions across disciplines and fields


NIRF is very important for prelims. The issue of ranking of universities as a whole is important for mains.


The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)

  1. It is a methodology adopted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, to rank all institutions of higher education in India
  2. The Framework was approved by the MHRD on 29 September 2015
  3. Initially, there were separate rankings for different types of institutions depending on their areas of operation like universities and colleges, engineering institutions, management institutions, pharmacy institutions and architecture institutions
  4. The Framework uses several parameters for ranking purposes like resources, research, and stakeholder perception
  5. These parameters have been grouped into five clusters and these clusters were assigned certain weightages
  6. 5 Parameters: “Teaching, Learning and Resources,” “Research and Professional Practices,” “Graduation Outcomes,” “Outreach and Inclusivity,” and “Perception”

[op-ed snap] Learn the lesson


The Ministry of Human Resource Development has steered India back to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which it had declined to participate in after a disastrous performance in 2009


  1. PISA is a global evaluation of 15-year-olds conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to gauge mathematical, scientific and reading skills of school students
  2. It is a research exercise generating data which can be compared across borders
  3. Of the 74 nations participating, India was close to the bottom of the barrel
  4. While PISA is not a contest, it does have one competitive aspect

PISA is an indicator:

  1. It is a reliable indicator of the future intellectual capital of participating countries
  2. It is a function of projected GDP, a reflection of the future wealth of nations
  3. A country hoping to win the global GDP race should regard PISA as a target
  4. And it should try to correct the structural imbalance that this test for schoolchildren draws attention to
  5. India swears by universities and IITs, but it is happy to let primary and secondary schools, which form the bedrock of the education system, plod along with teaching methods that are decades old

Why did India opt out?

  1. The UPA government had quit the field in high dudgeon, complaining about questions being set “out of context” in relation to the Indian socio-cultural milieu
  2. Indeed, an Indian student may find it more comfortable to do sums using mangoes rather than avocados for units
  3. But the argument can be taken only thus far, for the context of math and science is the universe and its contents
  4. Besides, a test involving European motifs which Indian students could not engage with should have been just as inscrutable to Mandarin readers
  5. The phenomenal success of Shanghai’s students suggests that the problem lies in India

Facing the loss:

  1. Finishing last should not be read as losing face, but rather as an opportunity to improve teaching methods and school systems by intelligent comparison
  2. If Singapore’s systems work better, what prevents Indian school boards from emulating them?
  3. India lost out by boycotting PISA in 2012 and 2015, when Asian countries like China, South Korea and Singapore surged ahead
  4. India need not have missed the bus, but the HRD ministry tried to change the benchmark to fit the country, rather than trying to change the country’s teaching system to fit the benchmark

The NDA government has done well to seek to return to PISA’s global testing system. But the crucial reform still lies ahead: PISA data must be used to improve the school system.


The information is important for both Prelims and Mains.

[op-ed snap] A new divide in class


  1. The idea of high-quality knowledge products available at ridiculously low prices like 1 lakh, is seductive to our governments, for whom being digital is to be progressive and who see professors and higher education as liabilities to be got rid of
  2. Our colleagues in high-end institutions like MIT and Harvard tell Third World youth that since your universities would never be able to appoint excellent academics as teachers, it would be better for you to register with start-ups like MITx, get access to the lectures of the brightest minds on earth and get credentials bearing their stamp
  3. The governments are envisioning a world without teachers, but apparently, not without knowledge

Online courses:

  1. Companies like Udacity, Coursera and Edx, which started producing massive open online courses (MOOCs) five years ago, presented themselves as benevolent knowledge givers helping educationally malnourished Third World countries
  2. All you needed was an internet connection
  3. Sceptics of MOOCs warned they were not going to remain free
  4. Capitalism, after all, is not a philanthropic project

Democratic learning:

  1. What could be more democratic than deciding your own pace and having the freedom to choose from thousands of courses milling around in the digital world
  2. But these companies did not leave it to the judgement of students and teachers: They started lobbying with governments and university leaders in the US and outside to include them in their formal curriculum
  3. A licence fee was required
  4. Some succumbed, others resisted

A utopian thought:

  1. The faculty of San Jose State University wrote that the thought of the exact same social justice course being taught in various Philosophy departments across the country is downright scary — something out of a dystopian novel
  2. Departments across the country possess unique specialisations and character, and should stay that way
  3. Universities tend not to hire their own graduates for a reason. They seek different influences
  4. Diversity in schools of thought and plurality of points of view are at the heart of liberal education
  5. One-size-fits-all, vendor-designed blended courses should not become the norm
  6. Two classes of universities will be created: One, well-funded colleges and universities in which privileged students get their own real professor
  7. Other, financially stressed private and public universities in which students watch a bunch of video-taped lectures and interact, if indeed any interaction is available on their home campuses, with a professor that this model of education has turned into a glorified teaching assistant
  8. Public universities will no longer provide the same quality of education and will not remain on par with well-funded private ones
  9. Teaching justice through an educational model that is spearheading the creation of two social classes in academia thus amounts to a cruel joke

Democracy in education:

  1. Do our departments have the guts to exercise their agency in the face of a government order?
  2. All the universities fell in line when the UGC dictated that they had to use syllabi prepared by it, allowing only 20% local content
  3. We do not also have heads of institutions like Teresa A. Sullivan, President of the University of Virginia, who preferred to resign rather than bow down to the pressure by her governing board to introduce more market-savvy, cost-cutting measures. She was brought back after the university community rose up for her

There is nothing democratic about MOOCs; all that this seeks to do is to create two very distinct sets of higher education institutions. One would hire the best minds and manufacture MOOCs with their help; the other would consume the high-quality product they market.


The opinion expressed is that of the author, which may not always match general perception. Note the critical points on MOOCs for Mains.

[op-ed snap] Reducing regulatory cholesterol in education


  1. Societies need equality of opportunity
  2. Society responded to the inequality of high-paying manufacturing jobs of the industrial revolution with state-funded universal K-12 schooling

Increasing graduates:

  1. Society responded to the next wave of wage premiums in service jobs with a massive increase in the number of college graduates—the world has produced more college graduates in the last 80 years than the 800 years before that
  2. India responded to IT (information technology) offshoring by raising engineering college intake capacity from 500,000 to 1.5 million in 10 years

Revolution in education needed:

  1. Automation, longer lives and faster technological change call for another revolution in education
  2. The traditional 10+2+3+2 system—two board exams followed by a college degree directly for some and then a master’s degree for some—is past its expiry date
  3. It needs complementing with a hybrid model that has:
  • flexible delivery (classroom, online and apprenticeships),
  • modularity (full mobility between certificates, diplomas and degrees),
  • is spread more evenly (lifelong opportunities and reskilling rather than loaded upfront)
  1. This shift needs bold changes to the current regulatory regimes in education that have delivered quantity but are inadequate, inappropriate and wrong for today’s battles of quality and employability

Case study:

  1. Michael Spence won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001 for his work on the signalling value of higher education
  2. How hiring an employee is like a lottery and education can be a useful screening tool

The bleak scenario:

  1. Education is becoming a dangerous filter because 60% of US college undergraduates with fee loans no longer get jobs with wages high enough to repay their loans
  2. Our guesstimate is that this is now true for 30% of India’s engineering graduates
  3. And while the UP government receiving 200,000 applications from graduates for 368 peon positions has more to do with the government wage premium, it’s a testimony to the diminished value of a degree
  4. Unlike China’s farm to non-farm transition that involved factories, India’s fastest growing formal jobs are in sales, customer care and logistics, paying Rs 8,000-20,000 per month

Bottom-of-the-pyramid jobs give us three insights:

  1. The college wage premium is now being replaced by the school premium because the most important vocational skills are now reading, writing, arithmetic and soft skills that depend on 12 years of school
  2. There is a clear preference for hands-on experience or apprenticeships rather than freshers
  3. New connectivity between skills and higher education will substantially increase the social signalling of vocational training

Policy actions:

  1. Shift the focus of school education from enrolment to learning outcomes
  2. Retain the rigour of testing in our schools but create a focus on soft skills
  3. Lift the ban on online higher education by Indian universities so students can learn before migration
  4. Enable new connectivity between skills and higher education
  5. Catalyse education innovation by separating the roles of policymaker, regulator and service provider

Amendments to RTE:

  1. The right to education (RTE) Act confuses school buildings with building schools
  2. We need amendments to the RTE Act that nuke the hardware obsession and decentralize to states
  3. Somewhat like last year’s replacement in the US of the centralizing No Child Left Behind Act with the Every Student Succeeds Act
  4. The second intervention of broadening of the school curriculum needs Central and state boards to explicitly target soft skills by taking inspiration from the learner profile of the International Baccalaureate curriculum
  5. The third intervention is lifting the unjust, dysfunctional and arrogant ban on online education by Indian universities
  6. This ban—rooted in the misinterpretation of a Supreme Court judgement prohibiting off-campus physical centres—handicaps Indian universities in building a key capability and gives an unfair advantage to foreign universities that have signed up more than 400,000 Indian students online
  7. The fourth intervention requires the MHRD to acknowledge that norms for small research universities using classroom delivery do not work for larger vocational universities using classrooms, apprenticeships and online delivery
  8. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is the designated vehicle of MHRD for skills; it should create space for innovating in connecting skills and degrees
  9. The final intervention is that MHRD as a policymaker needs to distance itself from AICTE and the University Grants Commission (whose policymaking function needs to be taken away) and laws that discriminate between government institutions and private institutions (like RTE) must go


There is need for an education revolution to complement the job formalization revolution that has begun. A direct or indirect question may be asked on this topic in Mains exam.

[pib] Know about Standard of Higher Educational Institutes


  1. Improvement of standards of higher education and upgradation of infrastructure is an on-going endeavour and the Central Government has been making a constant effort in this direction

New initiatives:

  1. National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)
  2. Impacting Research Innovation & Technology (IMPRINT)
  3. Uchchatar Avishkar Yojna (UAY)
  4. Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN)
  5. Global Research Interactive Network (GRIN)
  6. The project Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) is intended to provide massive open online courses (MOOCs) to the students across the country and thereby expanding the reach of best quality education to students using the ICT tools
  7. Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) has also been established to give a major push for creation of high quality infrastructure in premier educational institutions

UGC guidelines:

  1. Under this an autonomous college will have the freedom to determine and prescribe its own course of study and syllabi
  2. They can use modern tools of educational technology to achieve higher standards and greater creativity
  3. The UGC undertakes maintenance of standards in teaching, research and quality assurance in Universities, Deemed to be Universities and Colleges through framing and notifying regulations, schemes and disbursing grants to the eligible institutions
  4. The UGC has notified several regulations with a view to sustain and improve the quality of higher education and to undertake academic reforms such as the introduction of a semester system, the regular updating of curricula and Choice Based Credit Systems (CBCS)

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE):

  1. AICTE has taken measures of issuing the Regulations for Collaboration & Partnerships between Indian and Foreign Universities/Institutions in the field of Technical Education, Research and Training
  2. It has also notified Regulations making accreditation mandatory for all technical institutions
  3. AICTE has also launched Start-up Policy to promote students driven start-ups in AICTE approved Technical Institutions which also involves industry-academia interaction


  1. Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)
  2. Under RUSA, the overall quality of existing State higher educational institutions is sought to be improved by ensuring their conformity to prescribed norms and standards and adoption of accreditation as a mandatory quality assurance framework
  3. Certain academic, administrative and governance reforms are a precondition for receiving funding under RUSA


The various schemes are important for Prelims. These can also be quoted in mains.


Institutional autonomy linked to ranking

  1. News: The Centre plans to link the autonomy of higher education institutions to their performance
  2. Good quality institutions would be enabled to have greater administrative and academic autonomy
  3. Colleges will be identified based on accreditation and ranking and given autonomous status
  4. A revised framework will be put in place for outcome-based accreditation and credit-based programmes
  5. UGC reform: There will be reforms in the University Grants Commission too


Keep track of this issue as it develops for mains.

[pib] What is “SWAYAM” Platform?

  1. The Government proposes to leverage information technology and launch SWAYAM Platform
  2. This will have at least 350 online courses
  3. Access to SWAYAM would be widened by linkage with DTH channels, dedicated to education


  1. This will enable students to virtually attend the courses taught by the best faculty
  2. It will provide access to high quality reading resources, participate in discussion forums
  3. Take tests and earn academic grades


Important for Prelims.


Cabinet approves bill to make IIMs autonomous

  1. The Union cabinet has cleared the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bill, 2017
  2. The bill will allow IIMs “complete autonomy combined with adequate accountability”
  3. Autonomy: It will grant the IIMs freedom in terms of administration, recruitment and daily functioning
  4. Complete autonomy would allow them to award degrees instead of diplomas, as is the case now
  5. The bill has been prepared with the aim of furthering excellence in these premier institutions
    Boards: The bill will ensure IIMs are “board-driven, with the chairperson and director selected by the board
  6. This means neither the human resource development (HRD) ministry nor the president of India will have a say in the selection of top executives at these B-schools
  7. Currently, the boards largely make recommendations and the government either accepts or rejects their proposals
  8. This includes subjects like the appointment of directors and the chairman of the board of governors
  9. Reservations: The IIM bill is silent on reservations in teaching staff recruitment or the so-called faculty reservations
  10. Coordination Forum of IIMs: The forum was a contentious issue as the IIMs were concerned that this would allow the HRD ministry to control the B-schools, considered a nursery for future corporate leaders
  11. The coordination forum, in its final shape, will have limited power and the HRD minister will not be its convener
  12. It will be an advisory body, consisting of 33 members, and its chairman will be selected by a search-cum-selection committee
  13. Governing board: Likewise, the governing board of an IIM will have 15 members including three women members and five from the alumni community
  14. Statutory: The bill will grant statutory status to IIMs, which will be termed institutions of national importance.
  15. The move will give global recognition to courses offered by the IIMs, especially the newer institutions
  16. Societies: All IIMs are currently separate autonomous bodies registered under the Societies Act
  17. Being societies, the IIMs were not authorized to award degrees until now so they have been awarding post-graduate diplomas in management instead
  18. While these diplomas are treated as equivalent to MBAs, the equivalence is not universally recognized
  19. Review: The bill provides for a periodic review of IIMs’ performance by independent agencies
  20. The annual report on the IIMs will be placed in Parliament and the comptroller and auditor general will be auditing their accounts
  21. Background: The bill became controversial because of concerns that it may erode the autonomy of these premier institutions
  22. The IIMs protested against the bill in June 2015 when the first draft was put up for public feedback
  23. Following intervention by the Prime Minister’s Office, the HRD ministry made changes to the draft, accommodating most of the demands of the elite schools
  24. Most disputed issues, such as the composition of IIM boards, selection of board chairmen and course fees, will now be decided by the IIMs with little interference from the ministry

Note4students: Know the important provisions of the bill for prelims as well as mains.

Panel recommends quota for girl students in IITs

  1. News: Timothy Gonsalves panel has recommended reservation for girl students in IITs to address the issue of slump in the number of female students entering the prestigious institutes
  2. The committee is learnt to have suggested creating up to 20 per cent supernumerary seats for girls out of the total number of seats
  3. The recommendation of the committee will be taken up in the meeting of the joint admission board (JAB) for a final decision, which will decide whether the reservation will come in effect from this year or from 2018
  4. The number of seats for male candidates will not be affected and this will help IITs achieve the 1 lakh target by 2020
  5. Also, only candidates who have already qualified in JEE-Advanced will be considered

[op-ed snap] Improving India’s scientific capabilities


  1. Prime minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to place India among the top three countries in the world in the field of science and technology (S&T) by 2030
  2. At present, India performs below its potential on just about every indicator of scientific progress and achievement
  3. Be it the amount of public and private funding earmarked for research, the number of prestigious awards won by Indian scientists working in Indian institutions, the number of patents registered in the names of Indians or the number of articles published in well-known peer-reviewed journals


  1. India has a long civilizational history of scientific achievement
  2. Today the list of Indian scientists who have won the world’s most prestigious award, the Nobel, begins and ends with C.V. Raman
  3. The longer list of Indian-origin and Indian-born winners has 16 mentions

Early indicators that give us some idea of the government’s plans and priorities:

  1. The government’s focus on improving science education at the school level
  2. PM spoke of scientists helping develop course modules
  3. He also mentioned scientific social responsibility wherein premier laboratories and research institutions could partner with nearby schools and colleges to create an environment that supports scientific education and innovation
  4. The second issue that the government is focusing on is strengthening the links between S&T and industry
  5. Currently, much of the funding comes from the government while private-sector investment (in the form of research and development centres, for example) is below par

HRD Ministry report:

  1. Noted that as many as a million teaching positions in government schools across the country are lying vacant
  2. Successive status of education reports show that educational outcomes among Indian school students are falling at an alarming rate
  3. The situation in institutions of higher education is hardly any better
  4. Elite institutions such as the IITs are the exception, and they too struggle to compete globally
  5. Research institutions also suffer from government interference and lack of funding which, among other problems, makes them unattractive to rising talent that prefers greener pastures abroad

The government needs to make large efforts to make science more glamorous. If there is to be real progress, it will need unglamorous, ground-level work.


Good analysis on education and innovation ecosystem in India. Note it for essay.


  1. In the QS World University Rankings 2016-17, only two Indian institutions ranked among the top 200 universities in the world: Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (rank 152) and Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (rank 185).
  2. There have been plans that S&T investments from the public and private sector in India should be made to 2% of GDP (gross domestic product), the figure still hovers at around 0.9%
  3. In comparison, South Korea leads the race, investing 3% of its GDP in S&T, while Japan follows close behind.

Comprehensive training for Vice-Chancellors, registrars soon

  1. Who: The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)
  2. What: Comprehensive training modules for administrative officers of Central Universities in India
  3. Why: In order to help the institutions excel in the years to come
  4. Many academics do not have working experience of running the nuts and bolts of administrative work once they become Registrars
  5. There is a need to incorporate such every day administrative training
  6. The training will also help institutions understand how they can climb up the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings

Degree screening goes digital

  1. What: Union Cabinet approved the establishment of a National Academic Depository (NAD)
  2. Now, all academic degrees, certificates and awards in the country would soon be digitally available for verification
  3. Academic institutions would be directed to upload and authenticate all documents in digital form
  4. Why: This measure will help tackle the menace of fake degrees
  5. NSDL Database Management Limited (NDML) and CDSL Ventures Limited (CVL) would operationalise the NAD

Review ‘No Detention’, give States discretion to hold exams : CABE II

  1. The ‘No Detention’ policy does not allow any student to be failed till class VIII
  2. It may now be left to the discretion of States
  3. A decision was taken to amend the current provisions of the Right to Education Act (RTE) at the meeting

Review ‘No Detention’, give States discretion to hold exams : CABE I

  1. Where: 64th meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE)
  2. Issue: Most of the States complained of deteriorating learning outcomes because of the ‘No Detention’ policy
  3. Earlier, sub committees constituted by CABE had also recommended that the ‘No Detention’ provision should be reviewed
  4. CABE is the highest advisory body in the country on education and comprises the Centre as well as States
  5. It decisions are, however, recommendatory in nature

UNICEF report shows results of integrated schools in Rajasthan

  1. Context: State of the World’s Children’ report for 2016 released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  2. The repot highlighted the success of the newly-introduced transformative education programme of Rajasthan
  3. The programme has led to the establishment of an integrated school and an elementary one in each village panchayat of Rajasthan
  4. Enrolment: Preliminary results of the schools are encouraging, with a 6% increase registered in enrolment in comparison with the last year
  5. Vacancies for teachers have reduced from 60% to 33%
  6. The two categories of schools, promoted by the State government’s Education Department, are Adarsh Vidyalayas for classes I to XII and Utkrishta Vidyalayas for classes I to VIII
  7. The existing senior secondary and middle schools have also been converted into schools under the new category

SC withdraws 2013 order on medical entrance test

  1. Context: Govt.’s effort for single common entrance test system for MBBS, BDS and post-graduate medical courses
  2. News: Supreme Court recalled its 2013 judgment declaring the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) unconstitutional
  3. Reason: Court saw it as an interference in the right of the State and private medical colleges to administer
  4. NEET: It is meant to end rampant corruption in medical admissions, especially payment of huge capitation fees or donations in private colleges

Centre ranks 3,500 campuses

  1. News: The Union Human Resource Development Ministry will release rankings of Indian educational institutions based on the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)
  2. Significance: The NIRF aims to make the process transparent, as the data provided by the institutes was verified
  3. History: Earlier, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council assessed and assigned score to Indian higher education institutions
  4. Institutes were assigned ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ or ‘D’ grade, based on an assessment
  5. NAAC: It is an autonomous body under the UGC

Learn about National Institutional Ranking Framework

  1. Basics: It is the first comprehensive framework to assess Indian institutions
  2. Parameters: Teaching, learning and resources; research, consulting and collaborative performance; graduation outcomes; outreach and inclusivity; perception
  3. Significance: The ranking system will promote excellence in education in a competitive environment
  4. Magnitude: Nearly 3,500 institutions took part in the exercise

Learn more about University Grants Commission (UGC)?

  1. Objective: Provides recognition to universities in India, and disburses funds to such recognized universities and colleges
  2. Historical background: Statutory body set up by Act of Parliament in 1956, and is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education
  3. Previously, UGC was formed in 1946 to oversee the work of the 3 Central Universities of Aligarh, Banaras and, Delhi
  4. University Education Commission: Set up in 1948 under Chairmanship of S. Radhakrishnan
  5. Recommendations: UGC be reconstituted on the general model of the University Grants Commission of the United Kingdom

UGC tells universities to celebrate Matribhasha Diwas on March 3

  1. Context? To promote the use of mother tongue on March 3 this year, as February 21, the day declared by UNESCO as Mother languages day, happen to be a Sunday
  2. The commission has also asked universities to hold various activities to celebrate “Matribhasha Diwas”.

Ministry of HRD launched All India Survey on Higher Education

The Union Minister of Human Resource Development launched the Sixth All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) in New Delhi.

  1. The Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) has shown significant improvement from 19.4% in 2010-11 to 23.6% in 2014-15.
  2. The target of 30% GER by 2020 as envisaged in 12th Plan would be achieved.
  3. Increase in overall enrolment from 27.5 million in 2010-11 to 33.3 million in 2014-15.
  4. Gender Parity Index (GPI), a ratio of proportional representation of female and male, has marginally improved from 0.86 to 0.93.
  5. HRD Ministry will explore the feasibility of replicating best practices like ‘Jnana-Samnvay’ of Karnataka at national level.

Cabinet approves Setting up of 6 new IITs

Setting up of six new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jammu, Kerala and Karnataka.

  1. Each IIT will have a sanctioned strength of faculty members, with a faculty-student ratio of 1:10.
  2. Cabinet has given its approval for operationalisation of IITs initially by forming of Societies under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  3. In order to give a legal status to them till the amendment for their incorporation in The Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 is enacted.
  4. It should be noted here that the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961, contains no provision to enable establishment of new IITs.
  5. Hence, for the establishment of every new IIT, an amendment to the Act is necessary.

What is the purpose behind GIAN?

  1. It is a short-term teaching programme.
  2. It seeks to provide best international experience to students by increasing footprints of reputed faculty at Indian institutes.
  3. It aims to create avenues for collaborative research with international faculty.
  4. It will motivate the international scholars to work on problems specific to India.
  5. The courses will include students not only from hosting institution, but also from other colleges and universities.

MHRD launches The Global Initiative of Academic Networks

  1. GIAN is a new and catalytic programme of the MHRD having potential for far reaching impact.
  2. The project seeks to rope eminent scholars from abroad to teach at centrally-funded institution.
  3. It is intended to enlarge the interface of India’s institutions of higher learning and globally recognised academic institutions.
  4. The faculties will interact and partner with their counterparts and with students, and deliver specialised courses.
  5. The GIAN programme offers a basis and a platform for a long-term cooperation towards international academic collaboration.

How’s UGC different from AICTE?

  1. UGC and AICTE are 2 apex organisations that cater for the higher studies in India.
  2. One of the main differences between AICTE and UGC, is that the former is exclusively formed for technical education.
  3. UGC is charged with approving & providing funds for universities in the country.
  4. The AICTE is only a statutory body, which deals with co-ordinated development and proper planning.

What do I need to know about UGC?

  1. UGC = University Grants Commission
  2. It was formed in 1946 to oversee the work of the three Central Universities of Aligarh, Banaras and, Delhi.
  3. It was under the Chairmanship of S. Radhakrishnan that UGC was reconstituted on the general model of the University Grants Commission of the UK.
  4. In 1956, by an Act of Parliament, it was recognised as a statutory body of the Government of India.


Do you know that UGC is also called User Generated Content in the social media parlance?

What is Bharatvani project?

  1. Bharatvani is a project with an objective of delivering knowledge in and about all languages in India using multimedia formats through a portal.
  2. This portal is proposed to be all inclusive, interactive, dynamic and moderated.
  3. It is proposed to develop it as the largest language portal in the world by aggregating multimedia content from all Indian writers, govt. and non-governmental institutions.
  4. The project will present the country’s linguistic diversity in cyberspace.

UGC plans world’s largest language portal

  1. The UGC has proposed an all-inclusive and interactive portal, where knowledge in all Indian languages will be collected and disseminated.
  2. All universities and colleges will share digitised and non-digitised material in various languages available with them for the ambitious ’Bharatvani’ project.
  3. The idea is to make India an Open Knowledge Society, in the era of Digital India.
  4. According to the 2001 Census, there are 122 scheduled and non-scheduled languages and 234 mother tongues.

HRD Ministry sets up exclusive panel on Sanskrit promotion

The panel has been asked to recommend measures to integrate the study of Sanskrit with other disciplines like physics, chemistry, maths, medical science.

  1. The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has constituted a 13 member expert committee exclusively on Sanskrit.
  2. In its attempt to revive interest in the ancient Indian classical language Sanskrit.
  3. The expert committee would be headed by former chief election commissioner (CEC) N Gopalaswami.
  4. It will suggest changes in Sanskrit education in schools and universities and ways to impart Sanskrit education through modern tools.
  5. This Committee also has been tasked to chart out an action plan to develop the language in the next 10 years.

Panagaria for cooperative federalism in higher education

  1. NITI Aayog Vice-Chairperson pitched for idea of “cooperative, competitive federalism” to be implemented in the field of higher education.
  2. This will enable the best practices of one State can be replicated in the others, instead of borrowing ideas from other cultures and countries.
  3. There is a huge variation in the learning curve within India and the achievements made by a few States could easily be adopted by the others.
  4. He credited the proliferation of engineering and management colleges both in the public and private sector for the growth that India saw in the past few decades.

In national interest, scrap quota in higher education institutions: SC

Emphasising what the apex court held 27 years ago, the bench said it is now “inclined” to convey the same message to the government over reservation in institutions of higher education.

  1. Regretting that some “privilege remains unchanged” even after 68 years of independence.
  2. National interest requires doing away with all forms of reservation in institutions of higher education.
  3. To make merit the primary criteria for admissions into super-specialty courses, the ground reality remains that reservation often holds sway over merit.

SC had ruled in 1988 in two judgments, had said “there should really be no reservation” since general interest of the country for improving the standard of higher education.

IITs asked to partner industries for funding research projects

  1. Mandate is to train very high quality manpower and produce outcomes that are relevant for the design and manufacturing industry.
  2. IITs can soon start applying for government money to fund research.
  3. HRD Ministry earmarked Rs.250 crore per annum for fostering “very high quality” research in the IITs.
  4. Under ‘Uchatar Avishkar Yojana’, which will have industry partners with the institutions of excellence.
  5. This proposal will shift the focus from fundamental research to applied research.

HRD Ministry forms panel to review fellowships

  1. The MHRD has appointed a review committee to examine the issue of payment of fellowships to students.
  2. Earlier, UGC decided to discontinue the fellowship, on the grounds that the scheme lacked accountability and transparency.
  3. The Ministry announced that fellowships will be paid to both NET as well as non NET students, till the committee submits its report.
  4. The non-NET fellowship provided financial assistance of Rs 5,000/month for 18 months to MPhil students and Rs 8,000/month for 4 years to PhD students.

The committee will consider the economic and other criteria for eligibility for non-NET fellowships, recommending guidelines for the selection, coverage, award, and administration of the non-NET fellowships.

Centre keen on single exam for IIT admissions

The HRD ministry is keen to do away with the current format of students taking the JEE-Mains and JEE-Advanced.

  1. It wants to replace it with a one exam, one rank and one counselling system, which it asserts is more scientific.
  2. The single exam system is primarily aimed at reducing stress, it also seeks to address proliferation of coaching institutes that charge exorbitant fees.
  3. Two-tier exam system also adds to the financial burden of students.

HRD Ministry calls off global education meet

The first international summit on education, which was announced with much fanfare by the Ministry of Human Resource Development is called off.

  1. The event that was expected to have ministers and in-charges of education from 180 countries as participants, was scheduled to take place in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
  2. The idea for the education summit can be traced to the Vibrant Gujarat Investors Summit in 2013, when the Gujarat government organised a special event related to education with participation from over 20 countries.

India to rank its higher centres of learning

It empowers the institutions to compete for international ranking systems like QS and Times.

  1. In 2016, India will have its own ranking system, the National Institutional Ranking Framework.
  2. It marks institutions on the basis of five major parameters, which include Teaching, learning resources; Research, consulting, collaborative performance; Graduation outcomes; Outreach and inclusivity and Perception.
  3. The methodology of ranking is open to all Indian institutions that wish to be part of the system, but is not mandatory.
  4. Framework takes into account aspects of education that are India-centric.
  5. For instance, inclusive education through reservation, research in languages other than English and upcoming private institutions.

1000 crore package for higher education

  1. The government of Gujarat announced a 1000 crore package for higher education for the students in Gujarat.
  2. The government also relaxed the age limit for government jobs for general and reserved categories.
  3. The government will provide 50% of fees to medical student and will provide Rs.25000 a year for an engineering student. The students can make use of the announcement with a condition that the annual income of the parent should not be over 4.5 lakhs.
  4. The move is aimed at controlling the ongoing Patidhar agitation in the state.

Only 8.15% of Indians are graduates

  1. As of 2011, one out of every 10 Indians in a graduate or above.
  2. The numbers were released by the Census Commissioner and Registrar General of India.
  3. The rate of increase in graduates was more in rural India and the fastest of all among the rural women.
  4. Over 60% of the graduates have non-technical degrees.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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