Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Issues with NEP’s regulatory architecture


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NEP 2020

Mains level: Paper 2- Regulation of higher education through single regulator

The article deals with the idea of single regulator for higher education in the country and the challenges it could fece.

Recommendations for regulation of higher education

  • Regulatory bodies came up in response to the rapid growth of private participation since the 1980s.
  • Due to multiplicity of regulatory bodies in higher education, nearly all advisory panels appointed since 2005 have been asked for a single regulator.
  • National Knowledge Commission (NKC) concluded in 2007 that the plethora of agencies attempting to control entry, operation, intake, price, size, output and exit had rendered the regulation of higher education ineffectual.
  • The NKC recommended the setting up of an overarching Independent Regulatory Authority in Higher Education (IRAHE).
  • A major concern of the Yash Pal Committee constituted in 2009 was compartmentalisation of academia.
  • To promote such a dialogue, the Yash Pal committee recommended the creation of an apex body called the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER).
  • TSR Subramanian committee in 2016 proposed an Act for setting up an Indian Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE) to subsume all existing regulatory bodies in higher education.
  • The draft national policy presented by the Kasturirangan Committee in 2019 proposed a National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) as a common regulatory regime for entire higher education sector.
  • The draft NEP 2020 proposed a Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog (RSA) to coordinate, direct and address inter-institutional overlaps and conflicts.

The regulatory regime under NEP 2020

  • NEP 2020 has now a single regulator for all higher education barring medical and law education.
  • It envisages an overarching Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), with four independent verticals comprising the National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC), the National Accreditation Council (NAC), the Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) and the General Education Council (GEC).
  •  The University Grants Commission (UGC) is to become HEGC while the other regulatory bodies will become professional standard setters.

Fragmented regulation of medical education to continue

  • NEP-2020 provides for separate regulation for medical education.
  • But it envisions healthcare education as an inter-disciplinary system.[Allopathic student to have a basic understanding of Ayurveda, Yoga etc and vice-versa]
  • Multiple regulators in health education include the National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) and the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM) and continuation of the Dental Council of India (DCI), Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) and the Indian Nursing Council (INC),
  • Thus, making medical education inter-disciplinary would be difficult due to multiple regulators.

Lessons from the governance of medical education

  • The above example demonstrate the difficulty in designing a single regulatory framework to take care of the domain-specific needs of even within healthcare education.
  • But if accepted as a principle, it has the potential to delay, if not derail, the idea of a single regulator.
  • And should that actually happen, the idea of reining in the regulators might mean abandoning the idea of regulation of regulators.

Issues with the single regulator proposed in NEP 2020

  • The regulatory architecture proposed in the NEP is far too monolithic for a system of higher education serving a geographically, culturally and politically diverse country like ours.
  • Even in the matter of privatisation, there is enormous diversity of players and practices.
  • Historically too, private participation in the running of colleges has not followed a single pattern.
  • To imagine that a uniform structure called Board of Governors can serve all different kinds of institutions across the country is flawed.
  • Such a vision calls for better appreciation of what exists, no matter how worrisome a condition it is in.

Consider the question “What are the challenges in the regulation of higher education in the country? What are the concerns with the idea of single regulator for the regualtion of higher education in country?”


Before proceeding with the single regulator, the government need to pay attention to the issue of diversity in various aspects in the country.

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