Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Aug, 07, 2018

[pib] Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme covers entire country


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PMRF Scheme

Mains level: Government initiative for research scholars


PMRF Scheme covers entire country including North East Region

Nodal Ministry/Department: Ministry of HRD

About PMRF

1. PMRF scheme is aimed at attracting the talent pool of the country to doctoral (PhD) programs of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) for carrying out research in cutting-edge science and technology domains, with focus on national priorities.
2. It is a public-private partnership (PPP) between Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB), which is an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
3. It aims at attracting meritorious students from across the country including the North East Region.
4. Candidates who have completed or are in the final year of B.Tech. or Integrated M.Tech of M.Sc. in science and technology streams in following institutions are eligible to pursue research in the frontier areas of science & technology:

  • Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs),
  • Indian Institute of Science (IISc),
  • Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs),
  • National Institutes of Technology (NITs),
  • Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs)

Features of the Scheme

1. Applicants who fulfil the eligibility criteria, and are finally selected through a selection process, will be offered admission to PhD program in one of IITs/IISc with a fellowship of Rs.70,000/- per month for the first two years
2. Rs.75, 000/- per month for the 3rd year, and Rs.80, 000/- per month in the 4th and 5th years.
3. Apart from this, a research grant of Rs.2.00 lakh per year will be provided to each of the Fellows for a period of 5 years to cover their academic contingency expenses and for foreign/national travel expenses.

Aug, 07, 2018

[pib] NITI Aayog indentified 117 districts as Aspirational Districts for RUSA Scheme


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RUSA Scheme

Mains level: Read the attached story



1. NITI Aayog has identified 117 districts as ‘Aspirational Districts’ for Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA).
2. These districts have been selected on the basis of the composite index which includes published data of deprivation enumerated under Socio-Economic Caste Census, Health & Nutrition, Education and Basic Infrastructure.

Opening of new Model Degree Colleges (MDCs)

1. During the second phase of RUSA, central assistance is provided for opening of new Model Degree Colleges(MDCs) in these  ‘Aspirational Districts’ and in unserved & underserved districts in North Eastern and Himalayan States.
2. The central support provided under the component of new MDCs is infrastructural in nature in which funds are released for creation of Colleges with requisite infrastructure such as appropriate number of class rooms, library, laboratory, faculty rooms, toilet blocks and other essential requirements for technologically advanced facilities.
3. Further, under this component, a commitment is given by the State Governments that all recurring expenditure (including salaries) in respect of the MDC being established, will be borne by the respective State Government.
4. Additionally, under a separate component of RUSA viz., Faculty Recruitment Support, central support is provided for creation of additional posts of Assistant Professors.

Jul, 27, 2018

[pib] National Achievement Survey (NAS) to increase focus on learning outcomes in quality of elementary education


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NAS and its particulars

Mains level: Policy measures for Outcome-based Education and Leaning


More focus on Learning Outcomes

  1. In order to increase focus on quality of elementary education, the Central rules to the RTE Act, 2009 have been amended in February, 2017 to include reference on class-wise, subject-wise Learning Outcomes.
  2. The Learning Outcomes for each class in Languages (Hindi, English and Urdu), Mathematics, Environmental Studies, Science and Social Science up to the elementary stage (classes 1 to 8) have, accordingly, been finalized and shared with all States and UTs.
  3. Learning outcomes have been translated in different languages and serve as a benchmark for student’s capabilities to be achieved in each subject & class.

Particulars of the National Achievement Survey (NAS)

  1. To assess the learning levels of the students in Classes 3, 5 and 8  NCERT conducted the NAS in February in which  approximately 22 lakh children across the country participated.
  2. NAS at the elementary level was based on the Learning Outcomes developed by the NCERT.
  3. The design and implementation of the survey included in its ambit the school leaders, teachers and the whole network of officials at the Cluster, Block, District Institute of Education and Training (DIET), State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and the Directorates of Education in the different States/ UTs.
  4. NCERT similarly conducted NAS for class 10 on February 05, 2018.
  5. The survey tools used multiple test booklets in Mathematics, Modern Indian Language, English, Sciences and Social Sciences. The attainment of the learning levels of nearly 15 lakh students was assessed.
  6. District report cards (provisional) for NAS 2018 for class X have been released and are available on MHRD website.
Jul, 24, 2018

NCTE amendment Bill passed


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Council for Teacher Education, NCTE (Amendment) Bill

Mains level: Vrious initiatives to improve teacher’s education system and their outcomes


Lok Sabha nod to the NCTE (Amendment) Bill

  1. The Lok Sabha has passed the National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill to grant retrospective recognition to Central/State institutions that are conducting teacher education courses without NCTE approval
  2. This has been done as a one-time measure to ensure that the future of students studying in these institutions is not jeopardised

Recognition mandatory

  1. The NCTE Act, 1993, came into force in 1995 and applies to all parts of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir
  2. All institutions running teacher education courses, such as B.Ed and D.El.Ed have to obtain recognition from the NCTE under section 14 of the NCTE Act


National Council for Teacher Education

  1. National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) is a statutory body of Indian government set up under the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993 in 1995
  2. It has been established to formally oversee standards, procedures and processes in the Indian education system
  3. This council functions for the central as well as state governments on all matter with regard to the Teacher Education
  4. Functions
  • undertake surveys and studies pertaining to all aspects of the teacher education and publish the corresponding results
  • For the preparation of suitable plans and programmes regarding the field of teacher education, it makes recommendations to both the state and central governments, universities, University Grants Commission (UGC), and other recognised institutions.
  • it coordinates and monitors the teacher education system throughout the country.
  • it lays down the guideline for the minimum qualifications need for an individual to be a teacher in schools and recognised institutions.
  • it lays downs guidelines for the provision of physical and infrastructural facilities, staffing pattern etc. for the compliance by recognised institutions.
  • it lays down standards with respect to examinations, the major criteria for such admission as well as schemes for courses or training.
  • it promotes and conducts research and innovation in schools and recognised institutions and then disseminates the results thereof.
  • it examines its own laid-down guidelines, norms and standards for the improvement.
  • it identifies the recognised institutions and set up new institutions for the developmental programmes of teacher education system.
  • it takes up necessary steps for the prevention of the commercialisation of teacher education.
  • it also performs other function that is entrusted to it by the central government
Jul, 24, 2018

[pib] ‘Study in India’ Programme to make India an educational hub for foreign students


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Scheme

Mains level: Measures for internationalization of higher education in India


‘Study in India’ Programme

  1. To facilitate Internationalization of Higher Education in India, a Programme viz. ‘Study in India’ has been launched.
  2. EdCIL(India) Limited is the implementing agency for the Programme.
  3. Its objectives are:
  • to make India an education hub for foreign students;
  • improve the soft power of India with focus on the neighbouring countries and use it as a tool in diplomacy;
  • to rapidly increase the inflow of inbound International Students in India through a systematic brand-building, marketing, social media and digital marketing campaigns;
  • to increase India’s market share of global education exports;
  • improvement in the overall quality of higher education;
  • to reduce the export-import imbalance in the number of international students;
  • growth in India’s global market share of International students; and
  • increase in global ranking of India etc.

Provisions of the SIP    

  1. The programme focuses on International students from select 30 countries across South-East Asia, Middle East and Africa for a period of two years i.e. for the academic years 2018-19 and 2019-20.
  2. It envisages participation of select reputed Indian institutes/universities by way of offering seats for the International students at affordable rates.
  3. This Programme does not offer any Scholarships, however, fee waivers to meritorious foreign students ranging from 100% to 25% are offered.
  4. A centralised admission web-portal (https://studyinindia.gov.in/) acts as a single window for the admission of foreign students.
Jul, 23, 2018

[pib] Union Home Minister launches the Student Police Cadet (SPC) Programme

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Student Police Cadet

Mains level: Improving school education


Nationwide Students Police Cadet (SPC) Programme

The Union Home Minister launched the Student Police Cadet (SPC) programme for nationwide implementation at a ceremony in Gurugram, Haryana.

Aim:    SPC targets to lead a silent revolution by focusing on character building by imparting moral values to budding minds of children in higher school.

Particulars of the Programme

  1. The SPC programme focuses on students of Classes 8 & 9 and special care has been taken to ensure that it does not lead to increase in the workload of the students.
  2. The programme does not have any prescribed textbook nor is any exam envisaged. Only one class in a month is proposed.
  3. The programme seeks to cover broadly two kinds of topics, – crime prevention and control; and values and ethics.

Other Provisions

  1. The SPC programme would help in making students responsible citizens by inculcating values of respect to the elderly, discipline, social responsibility and through police-student interaction.
  2. It will provide a healthy interface between schools and police peace and inculcate in the students aspects of public safety, discipline, patience, tolerance, empathy, respect of senior citizens, social harmony, traffic sense and a corruption-free environment.
  3. SPC project will also help the police assess their image in the public eye and strive for improving confidence and winning trust of the people. SPC initially will be launched as pilot programme in all States and Union Territories.
Jul, 21, 2018

[op-ed snap] A higher abdication


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Critical analysis of draft Higher Education Commission of India Act, 2018


Repealing UGC

  1. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has now put out the draft Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission) Act, 2018
  2. It was anticipated that the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act would be replaced by an avant-garde legislation capable of comprehensively handling the present and future problems of higher education in the country

How the current legislation is no different from the previous one

  1. The spirit of Clause 15 (3) of the draft Act is no different to Section 12 of the UGC Act where wide powers are given to the Commission
  2. Research, learning outcomes and academic performance are already within the purview of universities
  3. The standards laid down by regulators invariably cater to the institutions which are at the bottom of the pyramid but are applied to all universities, including the best, inhibiting excellence

Positive measures

  1. Separating the funding functions of the Commission is a positive step and will rid it of the bad name it had acquired over the years
  2. It can now concentrate more on formulation of regulations, which is its core duty

Need of single regulator in education

  1. Both the National Knowledge Commission as well as the Yashpal Committee had, as long ago as in 2008, strongly recommended the setting up of a single regulatory authority
  2. Presently, there are 13 regulators in the area of higher education, each functioning independently and often times issuing contradictory regulations
  3. The draft mentions that in the case of Bar Council of India and Council of Architecture, their role will be limited to professional practice, implying that the education part will be with the university system

Accreditation system

  1. Accreditation is an important tool for quality improvement in learning outcomes
  2. The draft also empowers the commission to set up a robust accreditation system
  3. But instead of creating an autonomous accrediting agency, the draft proposes of making it a subordinate body of the commission
  4. This perpetuates the present unhealthy system which conflates the sanctioning, now authorisation role, with that of assessing and is akin to the cop and magistrate being rolled in one

Awarding degrees

  1. One of the fundamentals of the present UGC Act specifies that degrees can be awarded only by a university deemed to be a university and an institution specially empowered by Parliament in this behalf
  2. The present draft removes that restriction and by virtue of authorisation by UGC, any higher education institution in India, whether university or not, can become entitled to award diploma, degree etc
  3. The danger is that it could lead to a free-for-all situation
  4. On the other hand, if handled judiciously, this can pave the way for more autonomous institutions in the country and free the good colleges from the stranglehold of the universities
  5. The present UGC Act empowers it under Section 22 (3) to define a degree, including its duration and nomenclature
  6. The present draft removes that provision which can create chaos as different authorities will be free to give different nomenclature to a degree/diploma with variable duration
  7.  It will not only create difficulty in terms of equivalence and acceptance but will also cause great distress in explaining the disparity in terms of the standards of such degrees

Affiliation system

  1. The present system of affiliation has had a restrictive effect on the quality of higher education
  2. The draft has exacerbated the situation by implicitly allowing any university, including private and deemed-to-be-universities, to affiliate
  3. This could lead to an unhealthy competition and scramble for colleges for affiliation, especially by private universities, for purely commercial reasons

Strengthening online education

  1. Online education and blended learning are the order of the day and probably also of the future
  2. Open and Distance Learning is inextricably linked with the face-to-face education mode
  3. The draft does well by stating in Section 31 (3) that the two will remain together and no separate body will be created

Way Forward

  1. The bill was a crucial opportunity to bring about transformational legislation impacting on the quality of higher education in the country for years to come
  2. In its present shape, it is more of the same, with no radical departure from the past
Jul, 21, 2018

[op-ed snap] The fake academia


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Predatory publishing of academic journals and how it affects the quality of education being provided as well as research environment in India


Fake journal publication

  1. In May, the US Federal Trade Commission filed a law suit against a little-known publishing outfit in Hyderabad, OMICS
  2. The suit filed in the District Court of Nevada alleged that the claims on the websites of the journals published by OMICS — peer reviews, list of editors, access to credible databases — are “phony”
  3. The firm has been called guilty of charging authors for publishing their articles

Predatory publishing is now a business

  1. The problem of predatory publishing goes deeper than the activities of one firm
  2. India has emerged as a hub for the predatory publishing business
  3. There are more than 300 firms in the country that claim to publish papers in “international journals” for a fee that ranges from $30 to $1,800
  4. In a survey done in 2017, it was revealed that 27 per cent of the world’s predatory journal publishers were based in India and about 35 per cent of the corresponding authors in these journals were Indians

Reasons for rise in this business

  1. The problem stems from the UGC’s quantitative scoring system, the Academic Performance Indicator, in which publishing is a key constituent
  2. The system demands that academics publish as many papers as possible before their promotions are due
  3. This makes the quick publishing predatory journals a tempting option for many in academia
  4. The malaise should also be seen in the context of a regulatory mechanism that doesn’t give a free hand to universities to establish norms of research and publication, and develop the capacities of their faculty by providing them funding and conference support

Actions by regulators

  1. In May, the UGC removed more than 4,000 journals of “questionable repute” from its approved list of publications
  2. Last year, another exercise by the regulator to streamline its list of approved publications attracted criticism because it indiscriminately targeted open-source publications

Way forward

  1. The proliferation of predatory journals is a symptom of the failure of the country’s academia to develop a sound publishing ethic
  2. This finding underscores the needs for credible and independent assessors who can judge the quality of academic publications
Jul, 12, 2018

[op-ed snap] The problems with the HECI draft Bill


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: HECI Bill, 2018

Mains level: Issues plaguing higher education sector in India and what can be done to make higher education more accessible


Draft HECI bill

  1. The draft Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Bill, 2018 (HECI), aims to:
  • replace a historical statutory body, the UGC
  • push for more government control
  • stifle critical thinking on campuses

Concerns with the bill

The nature of the structure of the commission and its advisory council shows that they are bound to have more “government” in decision-making processes rather than academics

Sweeping powers render the HECI more authoritative than the collective strength of campus authorities

  • The powers and functions of the HECI trivialise the concept of autonomy because non-compliance of directions of the HECI could result in fines or jail sentence
  • This means that the authority of the HRD Ministry will be strengthened
  • Also, under the new terms of engagement, universities will have to take the concurrence of the HECI before offering a course
  • This restricts the freedom of a university’s Board of Studies

With its mandate of improving academic standards with a specific focus on learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, and training of teachers, the HECI is likely to overregulate and micromanage universities

The proposal to empower the Centre to remove the HECI’s chairperson and vice-chairperson for reasons including “moral turpitude” will curtail the regulator’s autonomy, which in turn will impact the autonomy of universities

Instead of allowing institutions to evolve over time based on their specific needs, focussing on homogeneous, one-size-fits-all administrative models will go against the ethos of academic freedom, diversity, and knowledge production

The move to replace the UGC with the HECI points to the Centre’s aim to restrict the role of the States in matters relating to education

India’s worries

  1. No Indian university figures among the world’s top 500
  2. Despite being a country with a huge young population, higher education remains a privilege; many do not yet have access to it, mainly because it is not affordable
  3. Education is a continuum from lower to higher
  4. The quality of higher education is determined by the quality of lower education, which is extremely poor, and that should be our focus
  5. The number of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Muslims who have access to even basic education, let alone higher education, remains abysmal

Way Forward

  1. Education must serve as a ladder for those in the lower rungs of society
  2. In India, there is no such ladder, and many children continue to lead a poor quality life with no access to education
  3. Including the excluded should be India’s goal, and reservation and affirmative action are the way forward
Jul, 10, 2018

[pib] Government declares 6 educational ‘Institutions of Eminence’


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Institutions of Eminence (IoEs)

Mains level: Although Indians have been making it to top positions across global companies, there is a lack of world-class institutions in India to produce more such talent


Towards world-class institutions

  1. The Government has shortlisted Six Institutions of Eminence (IoEs)  including 3 from Public Sector and 3 from Private Sector
  2. It is expected that the above-selected Institutions will come up in the top 500 of the world ranking in 10 years and in top 100 of the world ranking eventually overtime
  3. Each public Institution selected as ‘Institution of Eminence’ will get financial assistance up to Rs. 1000 Crore over the period of five years under this scheme

What will be the benefit of this decision to institutes

  1. It will ensure complete autonomy to the selected institutions and facilitate them to grow more rapidly
  2. They will get more opportunity to scale up their operations with more skills and quality improvement so that they become World Class Institutions in the field of education
  3. To achieve the top world ranking, these Institutions shall be provided with
  • greater autonomy  to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students
  • to recruit foreign faculty up to 25% of faculty strength; to offer online courses up to 20% of its programmes
  • to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC
  • free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction
  • the flexibility of course structure in terms of number of credit hours and years to take a degree
  • complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus
Jul, 09, 2018

National Testing Agency to conduct NET, NEET, JEE (Mains) exams


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NTA and its mandate, Various Exams conducted by NTA

Mains level: Read the attached story


National Testing Agency (NTA) to undertake these exams

  1. Newly formed National Testing Agency (NTA) would now conduct the national-level examinations — NET, NEET, JEE (Mains) that were earlier organised by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
  2. The tests would be computer-based.
  3. So far, the CBSE conducted NEET on behalf of the Medical Council Of India (MCI) and the Health Ministry and NET on behalf of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

NEET and JEE (Mains) to be conducted twice a year

  1. The National Eligibility Test (NET) would be conducted in December.
  2. JEE (Mains) twice a year, in January and April.
  3. NEET would be conducted in February and May.
  4. The students can appear both the times in NEET and the best of the two scores would be taken in account for admission.

Other Exams

  1. NET, a qualifying test for admission in higher educational institutions in the country, would be the first exam to be conducted by the newly formed body.
  2. The NTA would also conduct National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) and Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT).

Best Global Practices to be inculcated

  1. The exams will be more secure and at par with international norms.
  2. There will be no issues of leakage and it would be more student friendly, open, scientific and a leak-proof system.
  3. The NTA would benefit the students and they would have the option of going to computer centres from August-end to practice for the exams.
  4. The exams would be held over a span of four-five days and students would have the option of choosing the dates.


National Testing Agency

  1. It is a agency which will conduct examinations for higher and secondary education
  2. Its main purpose is to bring reforms in the education system
  3. Establishment of NTA will free CBSE, AICTE and other agencies from conducting various exams and enable them to focus on their core areas and work on improving the quality of education
  4. Initially, the CBSE staff will be deployed in this department and but later on the specialised people will be hired in the NTA
Jul, 06, 2018

HEFA to allot ₹1 lakh crore for education


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA)

Mains level: Higher educational Infrastructure development  in India


₹1 lakh crore for Educational Infrastructure

  1. The Union Cabinet permitted the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) to mobilize ₹1 lakh crore to fund research and academic infrastructure in higher educational institutions by 2022.
  2. The funding will also be available to government-run schools Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.
  3. This will help build speedier infrastructure of new Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya
  4. Indian Institutes of Technology, National Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, other Central universities and medical colleges will also get funds from the agency.

Funding till date

  1. HEFA was set up last year as a non-banking financing company for mobilizing extra-budgetary resources for building crucial infrastructure in Central higher educational institutions
  2. The Cabinet had approved the creation of the agency in September 2016.
  3. In the existing arrangement, the entire principle portion is repaid by the institution over 10 years, and the interest portion is serviced by the government by providing additional grants to the institution.
  4. So far, funding proposals worth ₹2,016 crore have been approved by the HEFA.
  5. In November 2017, the agency allocated ₹2,066 crore for six higher education institutions — the IITs in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kharagpur and Kanpur, and the National Institute of Technology, Suratkal — to improve research infrastructure there.


Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA)

  1. It will be formed as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) within a PSU Bank or the Government-owned-NBFC (Promoter).
  2. HEFA will have an authorized capital of 2,000 crore rupees and the government equity would be 1,000 crore rupees.
  3. The HEFA will also mobilize CSR funds from Corporates/PSUs which will, in turn, be released for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on grant basis.
  4. The principal portion of the loan will be repaid through the ‘internal accruals’ of the institutions earned through the fee receipts, research earnings etc.
  5. All the Centrally Funded Higher Educational Institutions will be eligible to join as members of the HEFA.
  6. For joining as members, the educational institution must agree to escrow a specific amount from their internal accruals for a period of 10 years to the HEFA.
Jul, 03, 2018

[op-ed snap] Reforming higher education


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Higher Education Commission of India, Higher Education Funding Agency

Mains level: Creation of HECI and its impact on higher education governance


Draft Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) Bill

  1. The draft Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) Bill is now in the public domain
  2. The HECI will replace the main regulatory authority, the University Grants Commission (UGC)
  3. This is being done to provide for more autonomy and facilitate the holistic growth of this sector and offer greater opportunities to Indian students at more affordable cost

Expanse of HECI

  1. The new commission will cover all fields of education except medical and, presumably, agriculture, and institutions set up under the Central and State Acts, excluding those of national importance

Separating grant giving & academic functions

  1. There will now be a clear separation between academic functions and grant-giving ones
  2. HECI will deal with academic functions & Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) with grant-giving ones
  3. The academic functions include
  • promoting the quality of instruction and maintenance of academic standards and,
  • fostering the autonomy of higher education institutions for a comprehensive and holistic growth of education and research in a competitive global environment in an inclusive manner

Why the need for HECI?

  1. The need for a single regulatory body arose largely in the context of multiple bodies set up over the years trying to cope with the ever-increasing complexity of the sector
  2. The regime of multiple regulators started in the mid-1980s and various professional bodies also started asserting themselves as regulators from around the early 1990s when the country embraced the new challenges of liberalization, privatization, and globalization
  3. The heavy hands of multiple regulators (like the UGC and All India Council for Technical Education), together with the empowerment of professional bodies (like the Bar Council of India and Council of Architecture) have not yielded the desired dividends
  4. Mushrooming of institutions and a steady decline of standards in most of them have not done much good to the image of the government and the architecture of regulation

Ambiguity in functions

  1. On the one hand, the HECI is being conceived as an overarching regulator and on the other, it is sought to develop mechanisms so that more institutions are encouraged to move out of its regulatory ambit
  2. The proposed Bill has to be situated in the context of certain new initiatives like granting near complete autonomy to the Indian Institutes of Management, providing graded autonomy to other institutions to free them from the clutches of regulations to enable them to develop into institutions of excellence

Recent initiatives for sustainability across the higher education system

  1. There have been recent initiatives to encourage public institutions to raise user charges so that they become self-sustaining
  2. This will also allow such institutions to take a loan from the Higher Education Funding Agency to meet developmental costs
  3. These initiatives might lead to:
  • institutions to abandon courses that have hardly any job prospects and starting ones that are market-friendly which is against the very idea of higher education
  • the high fees to be paid by students for such courses might compel them to take concessional student loans which may result in the student loan crisis reaching alarming proportions on account of delay in payment and default

Structure of HECI and associated loopholes

  1. There will be a chairperson, vice-chairperson and 12 members
  2. The chairperson will be of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India
  3. The secretary of the HECI will be an officer of the rank of joint secretary and above or a reputed academic and will serve as its member-secretary
  4. The secretary, higher education is envisaged to don many hats, serving as a member of the search-cum-selection committee of the chairperson and vice-chairperson, then processing their appointment as a key functionary of the government, and finally acting as a member of the HECI
  5. Such multiplicity of roles may create difficulties and conflict of interest

Way forward

  1. Despite some apparent infirmities, the proposed Bill shows the resolve of the government to move forward in reforming the sector
  2. Major issues like making the universities the hub of scientific and technological research, restoring the value of education in social sciences and the humanities, ensuring that poor and meritorious students can afford to be educated in subjects of their choice, improving the quality of instruction to enhance the employability of the students, addressing the concerns of faculty shortage, etc. need to be addressed
Jun, 29, 2018

Centre proposes new body to replace UGC


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the draft HECI, UGC, TSR Subramanian Committee Reforms

Mains level: Considering the ineffectiveness of UGC, the idea of setting up HECI has come forward to improve the scope of regulation of Educational Institutions.


The Centre has placed in the public domain a draft Bill for a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) – aimed at replacing the University Grants Commission – for eliciting suggestions from educationists.

Draft Higher Education Commission of India – a Regulator

  1. HECI is tasked with the mandate of improving academic standards with specific focus on learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, mentoring of institutions, training of teachers, promote use of educational technology.
  2. The draft HECI India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Act, 2018, takes away funding powers from the proposed regulator and gives it powers to ensure academic quality and even close down bogus institutions.
  3. HECI will be in charge of ensuring academic quality in universities and colleges, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) – or another mechanism that will be put in place later – will be responsible for funding universities and colleges.
  4. Once UGC is replaced by HECI, the technical education regulator AICTE and the teachers’ education regulator NCTE will also be reformed on similar lines.
  5. The new regime separates the academic and funding aspects of higher education.

Shutting Bogus Institutions

  1. The Regulator will have powers to enforce compliance to the academic quality standards and will have the power to order closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions.
  2. It will develop norms for setting standards for opening and closure of institutions, provide for greater flexibility and autonomy to institutions, lay standards for appointments to critical leadership positions at the institutional level irrespective of university started under any law (including state list).
  3. Non-compliance could result in fines or even a jail sentence.
  4. Till now, the UGC had no such powers. All it could do was to release a list of bogus institutions and not recognise their degrees.

Who will be the new staff?

  1. UGC staff would be retrained to adapt to the HECI regime, which will be fully digital and would do away with file work.
  2. The HECI will have a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and 12 other members, including ex-officio members, eminent academics and a doyen of industry.


UGC (University Grants Commission)

  1. The University Grants Commission of India (UGC India) is a statutory body set up by the Indian Union government in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  2. The UGC has two primary responsibilities:
  • providing funds to educational institutions; and
  • coordinating, determining and maintaining standards in institutions of higher education.

Its main functions are:

  • promoting and coordinating education in universities,
  • determining and maintaining standards for teaching, examination and research in universities,
  • framing regulations on minimum standards for education,
  • disbursing grants to universities and colleges,
  • liaising between the CG, State governments and higher educational institutions, and
  • advising the CG and State governments on possible policy measures to improve higher education in India.
Jun, 14, 2018

New norms for college teachers


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: University Grants Commission, Swayam

Mains level: Higher education governance in India and reforms required


Change in UGC regulations

  1. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has brought out a new set of regulations to alter the conditions for recruitment and promotion of college and university teachers
  2. This is done to make universities more focussed on research and colleges on the teaching-learning process

New norms

  1. Research will no longer be mandatory for college teachers for promotion
  2. College teachers will be graded on teaching rather than research
  3. They can earn grades for other activities too — like social work, helping in adoption of a village, helping students in extra-curricular activities, contributing teaching material to Swayam, the MOOCS platform for online material
  4. The regulations also make teaching hours flexible
  5. Indians who had been awarded a doctoral degree from any of the top 500 global universities would be eligible to teach in Indian universities without the requirement of any equivalence certificate or NET as soon as the regulations are notified


University Grants Commission (UGC)

  1. The University Grants Commission of India (UGC India) is a statutory body set up in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development
  2. It is charged with coordination, determination, and maintenance of standards of higher education
  3. It provides recognition to universities in India and disburses funds to such recognized universities and colleges
  4. UGC, along with CSIR currently conducts NET for appointments of teachers in colleges and universities
  5. It has made NET qualification mandatory for teaching at Graduation level and at Post Graduation level since July 2009
May, 19, 2018

Online resource for academicians soon


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PMMMNMTT

Mains level: Initiatives towards improving the accessibility of educational resources to enhance research and teaching


A Portal to connect with experts, access books and journals in their fields of study

  1. University and college teachers across the country will soon be able to connect with experts in their fields of study and also pose queries on academic questions that they wish resolved through suggestions offered by these experts or other teachers of their discipline.
  2. A National Resource Centre, envisaged as a one-stop point for Indian academicians to enhance their research and teaching skills, will make such cooperation across universities possible with the launch of a portal within months from now
  3. The National Institute of Educational Research and Planning (NIEPA) is in the process of rolling out the centre
  4. The initiative is part of the Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Training (PMMMNMTT)

Particulars of the Portal

  1. The center will enable college and university teachers to access a detailed database of academic resources, including lists of books, top journals and subject experts in their area of interest
  2. It will also suggest a mechanism to higher education institutions to assess students’ satisfaction with teaching and research in the institutions so that the faculties are able to figure out what students think about their college/university and make improvements
  3. NIEPA will hold a series of intensive workshops with experts in various disciplines in the next two months to put together an effective resource centre, said an official who did not want to be named
  4. The PMMMNMTT calls for a National Resource Centre to be “set up with the vision of developing teachers who are able to enhance their potential and push the frontiers of knowledge through research, networking, and sharing of existing resources in the competitive knowledge world”
  5. The portal will be launched with detailed information on resources in some key subjects: History, Political Science, Sociology, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology
  6. Education and Management will also feature among the chosen disciplines
May, 10, 2018

[op-ed snap] Universities are better off with greater autonomy


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Complement this newscard with [op-ed snap] The Catch In Autonomy.



  1. Autonomy is a matter on which there have been protests across many public universities

Greater Autonomy to Universities

  1. In March, the central government announced that 60 universities and colleges would be given full autonomy
  2. The protests have been against the granting of this autonomy
  3. To outsiders, it seems mystifying why people within universities would protest greater autonomy when all these years the higher education sector has protested against subversion of its autonomy

Broadly, two reasons are being given for not wanting this autonomy

  1. One, there is apprehension that autonomy is a covert path to reduction in public funding
  2. Indeed, public funding will get s reduced, it will be deeply damaging to higher education
  3. Universities need more public funding, not less
  4. But nothing suggests that the move towards autonomy is in any way specifically about cutting public funding, beyond the general trend of the past couple of decades
  5. Two, that autonomy implies that some people within the university will take all the decisions
  6. Outsiders taking decisions has been continually condemned till now(and rightly so)
  7. But now if insiders are allowed to take decisions, that is also being condemned

The big issues affecting Universities

  1. Over the past few decades, our public universities have become battlefields of vested political and commercial interests of the worst kind
  2. Very few institutions or parts of institutions have survived this unscathed. This has turned Indian higher education into a stagnant wasteland
  3. Poor governance, failure to recruit high-quality faculty, and turf battles between vested interests to gain and retain control define the fate of our institutions of higher learning

The way forward

  1. Inside universities, people want to protect their territories, reputations and power. Anything that disturbs or threatens this equilibrium is resisted
  2. Thus, saving public universities is not going to be easy
  3. Internal dissension, failure of structures of governance and poor public support contribute to create a vicious downward spiral
  4. Change on all fronts is absolutely essential but ever elusive
Apr, 17, 2018

[pib] Study in India portal


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ‘Study in India’ portal

Mains level: Schemes to make higher education quality intensive


  • ‘Study in India’ portal (www.studyinindia.gov.in) is being launched by HRD ministry.
  • The Study in India is aimed at making India a preferred destination for the foreign students to pursue their education.
  • The portal will enable students from 30 countries across South Asia, Africa, CIS and Middle East to select and apply for different courses from 150 select Indian institutions which are high on NAAC and NIRF ranking.
Apr, 06, 2018

[op-ed snap] The Catch In Autonomy


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The new regulations on providing graded autonomy to institutions of higher education can transform the higher education sector and strengthen the foundations of a knowledge economy. The newscard discusses some issues related to the new regulations.


A new scheme of greater autonomy to educational institutions

  1. Depending on their NAAC scores, institutions will be slotted in category I, II and lower
  2. There will be less autonomy as the rank declines
  3. Those in the highest category will have the freedom to start new courses, hire foreign faculty and pay higher emoluments to faculty
  4. So, some will have more freedom but others will have even less

UGC control over institutions

  1. In India, UGC increasingly controlled the functioning of the institutions it funded
  2. It set syllabus, minimum qualifications for recruitment and specified attendance
  3. The courts drove the last nail in the coffin of autonomy by requiring that UGC standards be followed
  4. The entire structure of teaching-learning was progressively determined by the UGC
  5. With each pay commission, there were more and more regulations and diktats

To understand what makes for a great institution of learning and how learning is to be nurtured, one has to go to the basic design of institutions of higher learning

  1. A multiplicity of approaches are needed for knowledge to advance
  2. Many may fail and others who learn from them may advance knowledge
  3. In higher education a great deal of freedom is required to generate ideas
  4. A degree of irreverence toward authority is essential
  5. Unfortunately, in India this is treated as a malaise. Autonomy, therefore, implies the freedom to pursue one’s own path of knowledge generation
  6. Teachers in higher education institutions need to devise their own courses to teach the perspective they feel best reflects the subject — standardised courses, like in schools, are undesirable
  7. Good teaching and research go hand in hand
  8. This requires commitment which comes when academics have autonomy

The need for autonomy

  1. The institution must have autonomy from external pressures, the department must have autonomy from the head of the institution and the teacher from the head of the department
  2. Unfortunately, in India, autonomy mostly stops with the head of the institution
  3. Faculty is supposed to comply with the orders as in a bureaucracy. This leads to sycophancy and compliance

Issues with the latest move to provide graded autonomy to institutions 

  1. With this move, the institutions will have to generate their own funds for many of the freedoms they are being granted
  2. So, they would be subject to the dictates of the market. Consequently, professional courses may get money but not the core social sciences or sciences
  3. There would be pressure to move towards paying courses
  4. Those not catering to the markets would be marginalised and the generation of the socially relevant knowledge would decline
Apr, 04, 2018

IISc tops HRD Ministry’s rankings of national institutes for 2018


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Institutional Ranking Framework

Mains level: Initiatives being taken to bring higher education institutions of India at par with world’s best ones


NIRF 2018 declared

  1. The Ministry of Human Resource Development released its ranking of national institutes for 2018
  2. The MHRD has adopted the National Institutional Ranking Framework, which ranks the best colleges and universities in India
  3. The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, retained its position as India’s top-ranked university for the third year in a row


National Institutional Ranking Framework

  1. NIRF is a methodology adopted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, to rank institutions of higher education in India
  2. This framework outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country
  3. These include overall rankings across disciplines and as well as category-wise ranking for engineering, pharmacy, medical, management, architecture, law, university, and colleges
  4. The parameters broadly cover “Teaching, Learning and Resources,” “Research and Professional Practices,” “Graduation Outcomes,” “Outreach and Inclusivity,” and “Perception”
Apr, 03, 2018

[pib] ‘NIRF India Rankings 2018’ for Higher Education Institutions


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NIRF India Rankings 2018

Mains level: Higher education sector in India and issues related to it


  • The Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri Prakash Javadekar, released the NIRF India Rankings 2018 in various categories on the basis of performance of Higher Educational Institutions
  • 69 top institutions in 9 categories were given awards at today’s event. 
  • The idea behind these rankings is to promote quality in education and encourage competition to perform better and to set up new benchmarks of performance in Higher education space.
  • To promote quality education, Govt is providing support for setting up and upgrading of 10 public and 10 private Institutions of Eminence (IOEs) so as to enable them to reach amongst top 100 of world institutions ranking. The list of 20 IOEs will be released soon.
  • Various initiatives of the HRD Ministry like GIAN, RUSA, SWAYAM, SWAYAM Prabha, TEQUIP III, Smart India Hackathon, etc are in direction to further boost the Quality, Research and Innovation in education.
  • NIRF rankings are the corner stone of various higher education reform measures taken up by the HRD Ministry over the last four years.

About the rankings

In this third edition of India Rankings, a total of 2809 institutions have participated in 9 categories. Collectively they have submitted 3954 distinct profiles, some in multiple disciplines/categories

This includes 301 Universities, 906 Engineering Institutions, 487 Management Institutions, 286 Pharmacy Institutions, 71 Law Institutions, 101 Medical Institutions, 59 Architecture Institutions and 1087 General Degree Colleges.

“India Rankings 2018” have ranked institutions in the disciplines/categories mentioned above, and have also provided a common overall rank across all disciplines for those institutions which have more than 1000 enrolled students.

The parameters used for India Rankings 2018 are broadly similar to those used in previous years. However, some of the sub-parameters have been further tweaked for greater robustness and accuracy.

In particular for evaluating Research Impact, parameters for quality of publications have been enhanced to include the number of highly cited papers, (i.e., number of papers lying in the top 25 percentile of citations) in addition to the usual parameters of publications per faculty and citations per paper.

The performance metrics have been optimized to provide a good discrimination over a large range of possible values. All research related information, including publications, citations, highly cited papers and even patent information about institutes was collected from third party databases to obtain an objective and unbiased picture. For this year’s Perception inputs, a large database of eminent academic and industry peers and employers was deployed.

  • Although the Central Government funded institutions, in general continue to do well, some of the state-funded and private universities also appear prominently.
  • The ranking of General Degree Colleges which was started last year, saw a much more enthusiastic participation this year.
  • This year also saw the beginning of limited ranking of institutions in new areas like Medicine, Law and Architecture.
Mar, 28, 2018

[op-ed snap] A game-changer for higher education


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the RUSA scheme(read the b2b)

Mains level: Importance of the RUSA scheme in current scenario where government gives uneven support to some premier institutions and ignores other institutions with unsatisfactory support.


Government decision on Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)

  1. The Union Cabinet’s decision recently to not only continue with the RUSA but also give it due importance augurs well for the system of higher education in India
  2. The RUSA is a Centrally sponsored scheme launched in 2013 to provide strategic funding to eligible State higher educational institutions

Uneven financial support to premier institutions

  1. About 94% of students of higher education study in 369 State universities
  2. But the significant part of funding mainly directed towards starting more IITs, IIMs and Central universities
  3. Today about 150 Centrally-funded institutions (less than 6% of students study in them) — corner almost the entire funding by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)
  4. To make things worse, investment by State governments(towards state sponsored institutions)  has been also dwindling each year as higher education is a low-priority area

Importance of the RUSA

  1. The RUSA was launched to address the above critical concerns
  2. The scheme is largely based on the conditional release of funds linked to reforms in the key areas of governance, learning-teaching outcomes, reaching out to the unreached and infrastructure support
  3. Unlike other schemes which are foisted on State governments in a one-size-fits all manner, under RUSA, States and institutions have to give an undertaking expressing their willingness to the idea of reform and agreeing to meet the States’ share of the cost
  4. RUSA is a process-driven scheme. Its design and conceptualisation were finalised through extensive consultations with all key stakeholders, especially State governments
  5. Preparatory grants were released to States to have the required systems, processes, and the technical support in place
  6. Despite being voluntary, all States except a Union Territory (Lakshadweep) are a part of RUSA

Funding for the RUSA

  1. For the current year, Rs. 1,300 crore has been provided

Governance reform for the scheme

  1. Governance reform is central to the scheme
  2. State Higher Education Councils (SHECs) which have eminent academics, industrialists and other experts have been created
  3. These councils will play major roles from an academic and professional point of view, in the formulation of medium- and long-term State perspective plans

The way forward

  1. RUSA can prove be a real game changer for higher education in the country
  2. It has not only reprioritised the country’s needs, from funding just a few premier institutions to reaching out to institutions at the bottom of the pyramid, but has also changed the way regulators need to function
  3. However its litmus test will be in how impartially the scheme is administered by the MHRD and the degree to which State governments allow the SHEC to function
  4. Letting go of the governmental stranglehold over universities is linked to this


Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)

Mar, 27, 2018

[op-ed snap] Eureka Moment For Universities


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: The government has provided greater autonomy to institutions. The newscard discusses some ideas to implement these reforms in a more fruitful way.


Greater autonomy to institutions of higher education

  1. The new regulations on providing graded autonomy to institutions of higher education can transform the higher education sector and strengthen the foundations of a knowledge economy
  2. To make that happen, universities, teachers and students need to create many more forums for interaction
  3. These interaction would lead to generation of workable ideas and workable courses that can generate wealth

We reality check of innovations

  1. For the most part, innovation happens in increments and builds on what has gone before
  2. And innovation needs to be tested against reality
  3. Setting up incubation centres is just one step. We need much more: Internships for students, work on real world problems and building databases of knowledge that could be useful for artificial intelligence
  4. This is where the forums for interaction(mentioned above) can help
  5. These interactions would provide good guide maps for what students should be taught and the research that is needed

Teaching in Indian Universities

  1. Today teaching in universities is largely guided by convention and to some extent by what is taught on foreign shores
  2. Two factors are responsible for this:
    One, the need to constantly look to the UGC for guidance and two, the lack of discussion with local communities about their needs
  3. The new regulations have removed the first obstacle
  4. We should now direct our attention to the second

What is needed to be done by the universities?

  1. There are many people who are already doing great work
  2. We just need more of them
  3. Universities need to set up structures to encourage such people willing and able to devote their time to real world problems and to improving productivity
  4. For universities to be able to generate wealth, they need to encourage and fund all kinds of ideas
  5. One possible way to do this would be to give greater value to project work

Funding issues

  1. All of the above ideas need investment in human capital, namely faculty
  2. The government can facilitate this entire process by funding capability building of teachers
  3. We need to invest far more in our teachers than we do. Given the scale of the task, and past neglect, we need to move fast
Feb, 14, 2018

Varsities can start new centres, hire foreign faculty — but with own money


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Statutory, regulatory & various quasi-judicial bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: University Grants Commission, NAAC

Mains level: Raising the level of higher education institutions in India


Graded autonomy to universities

  1. Universities will henceforth be granted graded autonomy
  2. Institutions with a better track record will be getting the freedom to start their own courses, departments, centers, and schools
  3. They will have to generate their own funds rather than demand these from the government

Different tiers of institutions

  1. The University Grants Commission has decided to accord Category-I status to institutions with a National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) grade of over 3.51 on a scale of 4
  2. Those with a grade between 3.26 and 3.5 will be in Category-II
  3. All others will be in Category-III and get no autonomy beyond what is already available

Permissions available

  1. The permissions given to Category-I institutions include the power to start off-campus centres — within their geographical jurisdiction — and skill centers without UGC approval
  2. They have also been given the freedom to hire foreign faculty members who have taught in any of the top 500 institutions of the world on contract basis
  3. They are also permitted to enrol foreign students — with no cap on the fees charged from them — on merit basis, subject to a maximum of 20% over and above the domestic student strength
  4. Category-II institutions will also have similar freedom


University Grants Commission

  1. The University Grants Commission of India (UGC India) is a statutory body set up by the Indian Union government in accordance with the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development
  2. It is charged with coordination, determination, and maintenance of standards of higher education
  3. It provides recognition to universities in India and disburses funds to such recognized universities and colleges
  4. UGC, along with CSIR currently conducts NET for appointments of teachers in colleges and universities
  5. UGC is modeled after University Grants Committee of UK which was an advisory committee of the British government and advised on the distribution of grant funding amongst the British universities
Feb, 03, 2018

An initiative to step up research investments


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RISE initiative, HEFA, Prime Minister’s Research Fellows scheme

Mains level: Measures being undertaken to improve state of higher education in India


Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE)

  1. A new initiative called Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) has been announced in budget to step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions
  2. These include health institutions
  3. There will be a total investment of ₹1,00,000-crore in the next four years

HEFA to overlook funding

  1. Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) would be suitably structured for funding this initiative
  2. The manner in which investment in institutions is provided is likely to be the same as is practised in HEFA, but there may be different windows for different institutions

Other schemes

  1. The Prime Minister’s Research Fellows scheme to provide high fellowship amounts to 1000 B. Tech students to pursue PhD in IITs and IISc is also aimed at facilitating cutting-edge research
  2. The idea behind these schemes is to make India produce better research and make its institutions climb up in global rankings


Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA)

  1. HEFA is aimed at boosting institutional infrastructure
  2. Especially state-of-the-art laboratories, in key institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Management, and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology
  3. All centrally funded higher educational institutions would be eligible for joining as members of the HEFA
  4. Under the existent financing mechanism of HEFA, an institution can claim for a project 10 times the sum it escrows in the first year
  5. The institution should agree to escrow a specific amount from their internal accruals to HEFA for a period of 10 years
  6. If an institution escrows ₹10-crore, it can get approval for a ₹100-crore project. It has to escrow ₹10-crore each year for 10 years, which will take care of the principal amount
  7. HEFA was approved by the Union Cabinet as a Special Purpose Vehicle with a public sector bank (Canara Bank) in September 2016
  8. HEFA would be jointly promoted by the SPV and the Ministry of Human Resource Development with an authorised capital of ₹2,000 crore, out of which the Government’s equity would be ₹1,000 crore
  9. It would leverage the equity to raise up to ₹20,000 crore for funding projects
Feb, 01, 2018

Graduates from IIT, NIT to teach in rural areas


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: State of technical education in country and measures required to improve it


Improving technical education in rural areas

  1. More than 1,200 youngsters with Ph.D. and M. Tech degrees from institutions like IIT, IISc, NITs will spend the next three years teaching at 53 government engineering colleges in rural areas
  2. These are situated in districts lagging behind in technical education

About the initiative

  1. It is a result of the Centre helping state governments fill up vacancies in backward districts in 11 states
  2. The teachers will be there on a three-year contract
  3. Later, they can either choose to stay in academics or join the corporate world
  4. The focus is on states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and the Andaman and the Nicobar Islands
Dec, 20, 2017

Parliament gives nod to IIM Bill


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IIM bill 2017, institutions of national importance

Mains level: Reforms in higher education sector


IIM Bill, 2017 passed

  1. Parliament has unanimously passed a Bill to grant the Indian Institutes of Management the power to grant degrees instead of post-graduate diplomas
  2. The Bill also allows students to acquire doctoral degrees from the IIMs

Doctoral degrees

  1. Earlier, fellowships of the IIMs were not regarded as Ph.D.s, which led students to complete their diplomas and go abroad if they wanted to earn a doctoral degree
  2. The passage of this Bill will pave the way for more research at these prestigious institutions

Administrative changes

  1. The Bill also confers on the 20 IIMs the status of institutions of national importance, granting them greater functional autonomy by restricting the role of the government in them
  2. As per the IIM Bill, 2017, a Board of Governors will appoint the Director of each IIM
  3. A search-cum-selection-committee will recommend the names and the director will be eligible for variable pay as determined by the Board
Nov, 01, 2016

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
Oct, 28, 2016

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
Oct, 26, 2016

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
Oct, 26, 2016

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
Jul, 01, 2016

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
Apr, 12, 2016

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
Apr, 04, 2016

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
Feb, 22, 2016

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”.
Dec, 22, 2015

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.
Dec, 04, 2015

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.
Dec, 01, 2015

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.
Nov, 30, 2015

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.
Nov, 23, 2015

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.
Nov, 04, 2015

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.
Oct, 28, 2015

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.

Oct, 28, 2015

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.
Oct, 26, 2015

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.

Oct, 22, 2015

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.
Sep, 30, 2015

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.
Sep, 30, 2015

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.
Sep, 26, 2015

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.
Aug, 04, 2015

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.
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