Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Centralisation in decision making in education


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Centralisation in Education

The article tracks the evolution of the India education system after Independence. While the decentralisation and active encouragement underscores the initial years, recent trends shows a growing emphasis on centralisation.

How Government support contributed to rise of educational institutions

  • In the initial decades after Independence, the government was conscious of various social, economic and financial challenges.
  • So, the government strongly supported universities, encouraging them to further develop an academic .
  • The IITs and IIM along with institutions of academic excellence like the IISc, Indian Statistical Institute, and JNU emerged as model institutions.
  • The institutional and academic autonomy offered was central to their emerging as premier institutions.
  • Other universities revised curricula and set about the task of reforming the university as a space for healthy academic engagement.

Rise of decentralisation in collective decision making

  • The above changes were marked by the growing importance of various large representative institutional bodies.
  • For example, institutional bodies like faculty committees, committees of courses, board of studies, university senates, academic councils and executive councils grew in importance.
  • These bodies oversaw the administrative and academic functioning of the university and ensured collective decision-making.
  • Debate over ideological positions, scholarly beliefs shaped the process of nation-building in independent India.

Policy changes and its impact (2005-15)

  • The constitution of the National Knowledge Commission and privatisation of education undermined the deliberative and independent character of these institutions of higher education.
  • Administrative and academic decisions were imposed from above.
  • Discussions within various academic bodies were discouraged.
  • The imposition of the semester system and a four-year undergraduate programme in many public and private universities were hallmarks of this new era of bureaucratic centralisation.
  • The academic achievements of scholars from Indian universities were undermined.
  • Those in positions of authority within the universities were encouraged to undermine academic bodies and limit their role.

New government intervention after 2015

  • Futher changes were introduced starting from 2015.
  • Choice Based Credit System was introduced and there were renewed attempts to privatise higher education linked to an emphasis on rankings.
  • The government started to look into minute details pertaining to academic curricula, the teaching-learning process and the parameters that governed academic research within the university.

Centralisation in Covid-19 pandemic

  • The centralisation trend intensified with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Central government and the University Grants Commission have imposed themselves on the daily functioning of all higher educational institutions.
  • This represents a new government-oriented bureaucratic centralisation.
  • Decisions about the conclusion of academic term, the modalities for evaluation and the conduct of the teaching-learning process have become exclusive government prerogatives.
  • The various academic bodies that had original jurisdiction over these matters have been made redundant.
  • How and whether examinations are to be conducted has become an issue of contention between State and Central governments.

Consider the question “Centralisation of the decision making instead of at institutional level in educational institutions and universities lies at many woes of the higher education in India. Comment.”


The time has come for institutions of higher education in India to recover their lost voice and restore the fertile academic space where ideas are discussed and debated rather than suppressed and dismissed.

Original article:


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