Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Need for re-orientationop-ed of the day


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Improving the standard and status of State universities and problems faced by them?


State universities will have to deliver more to the State where they are located

Status of the state universities in India

  • Significance of state universities: Out of about a thousand higher education institutions (HEIs) that are authorised to award degrees in India, about 400 are state public universities.
    • These state universities produce over 90% of our graduates (including those from the colleges affiliated to them) and contribute to about one-third of the research publications from this country.
  • Poor quality: That their quality and performance is poor in most cases is accepted as a given today.
    • It is evidenced by their poor performance in institutional rankings,
    • the poor employment status of their students,
    • rather poor quality of their publications,
    • negligible presence in national-level policy/decision-making bodies,
    • poor track record in receiving national awards and recognition, poor share in research funding and so on.
  • Stated reasons for poor performance– Commonly stated reasons for these observations include government/political interference in the management of the university, lack of autonomy, poor governance structures, corruption, poor quality of teachers, outdated curricula, plagiarism, poor infrastructure and facilities, overcrowding, evils of the “affiliation” system and poor linkages with alumni and industry.
    • Symptoms of the problem: While many of these observations are no doubt valid, they appear to be only the symptoms and consequences of some deeper malaise and not the underlying cause.

Core causative factors for the poor state of state universities

  • Lack of support: State universities are not supported the way Central universities are supported by the Central government as well as given patronage by the section of society.
    • It is as though State-level players do not have much stake in the stability and performance of the State university system.
    • What could be the reason for lack of support? One reason why State-level players do not feel compelled to back the State university system more strongly could be that the latter does not commit itself to anything that may be of particular interest and value to the State where the university is located.
  • What could be the solution? In order to receive much more funding and support from the State system then, State universities would have to commit to delivering lots more to the State and its people where they are located.
    • New vision and programmes: They must come up with a new vision and programmes specifically addressing the needs of the State, its industry, economy and society, and on the basis of it make the State-level players commit to providing full ownership and support to them.


The initiative to start a larger dialogue on the future of our State universities would have to be taken primarily by the academic community of these institutions.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0PIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

Mains level : Various initiaitves for rural transformation

The Union Minister for Human Resource Development has informed Lok Sabha about the progress of the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA).

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 is the upgraded version of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 1.0.
  • The scheme is extended to all educational institutes; however, under UBA 2.0 Participating institutes are selected based on the fulfilment of certain criteria.

About UBA

  • It is a flagship programme of the Ministry of HRD, which aims to link the Higher Education Institutions with a set of at least 5 villages so that these institutions can contribute to the economic and social betterment of these village communities using their knowledge base.
  • It is a significant initiative where all Higher Learning Institutes have been involved for participation in development activities, particularly in rural areas.
  • It also aims to create a virtuous cycle between the society and an inclusive university system, with the latter providing knowledge base; practices for emerging livelihoods and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and private sectors.
  • Currently under the scheme UBA, 13072 villages have been adopted by 2474 Institutes.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

World University Rankings by Subject 2020IOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the report

Mains level : State of higher education in India



Indian higher-education institutes have improved their performance on the global stage, with a greater number getting ranked in the top-100 programs, according to the latest edition of the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject 2020.

Major findings of the report

  • IIT Bombay (44), IIT Delhi (47), IIT Kharagpur (86), IIT Madras (88) and IIT Kanpur (96) found place in top 100 of this category.
  • In the Natural Sciences category, three Indian institutions made it to the top 200: IIT-Bombay at 108th rank closely followed by the IISc, Bangalore at the 111th position, while IIT-Madras scraped in at the 195th rank.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University remained the country’s top institution in the Arts and Humanities category, with a global ranking of 162, followed at a distance by Delhi University at 231.
  • Delhi University topped the Social Sciences and Management category, with a global ranking of 160, followed by IIT-Delhi at 183.
  • There are no Indian institutions in the world’s top 200 when it comes to Life Sciences and Medicine.
  • The top institution in the country is the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which had a global ranking of 231.
  • Other top subjects included physics & astronomy with 18 Indian institutes, biological sciences (16), electrical engineering (15), chemical engineering (14) and mechanical engineering (14).
  • MIT, Stanford University and the University of Cambridge has secured top three positions in the Engineering and Technology category.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

A disconnected pedagogyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Aligning national curriculum with the needs of the market and society.


The gap between jobs, needs and knowledge, and the absence of role models, could be turning India’s demographic dividend into a nightmare.

National curriculum and problems with it

  • What is in our national curriculum? It is a fixed set of topics prescribed in all subjects — from physics to geography, and engineering to planning.
    • And it is taught in English at our elite MHRD institutions.
  • Designed by professionals: It has not been designed by politicians but by our elite professors and bureaucrats: It is what they believe the nation really needs to know.
  • Issue of imposition: It is imposed on ordinary students and parents through competitive exams and on colleges and universities through various central regulatory agencies, most egregiously, through the UGC-NET, an objective-type multiple-choice (!) exam that decides who is fit to be a college teacher.

Issues with the engineering curriculum

  • Doesn’t address the regional needs: We already know that the national engineering curriculum fails miserably in meeting regional needs.
    • No regional variation accounted for: Engineering for Himachal Pradesh needs to be different from that in Maharashtra or Kerala.
  • Not in sync with the demands of the industry: It must address the needs of core industries, local enterprises, the provisioning of basic amenities such as water and energy.
    • None of this is in our national curricula or practised at the IITs.
    • Moreover, there is no mechanism for engineering colleges to work with their communities.

Issue with the social science curriculum

  • No interdisciplinary courses: Let us look at the UGC-NET curricula, which is largely what is taught in our elite institutions.
    • At the BA level, it is divided into several disciplines — for instance, political science, sociology and economics.
    • This is unfortunate since much of life in India is interdisciplinary.
    • As a result, many activities such as preparing the balance sheet for a farmer, or analysing public transport needs, and development concerns such as drinking water or even city governance, are given a miss.
  • Example of economics curriculum: The UGC-NET curricula in economics has 10 units, the very last unit is Indian Economics. Unit 8 is on Growth and Development Economics, where the student must know Keynes, Marx, Kaldor, and others.
    • There are various mathematical models, for example, the IS-LM macroeconomic model, whose validity in the Indian scenario is questionable.
    • Absence of important sectors: The study of sectors such as small enterprises or basic economic services such as transportation is absent. The District Economic Survey, an important document prepared regularly by every state for each district, is not even mentioned.

Sociology curriculum and issues involved

  • Absence of certain important items: There is no preamble nor a list of textbooks or case studies.
    • Under “Social Institutions”, we have a list of timeless words such as culture, marriage, family and kinship.
    • Peasant occurs two times, but there is no farmer. Here is a sample question: “Who uses the phrase ‘fetishism of commodities’ while analysing social conditions?” followed by four names.
  • No mention of important data: There is also no mention of important data sets such as the census or developmental programmes including MGNREGA in either curriculum.


  • National curricula divorced from the community: The training at our elite institutions, and consequently, in the national curricula, is not to empower ordinary students to probe their lived reality. Or to contribute professionally and constructively to the development problems around us. Rather, it is to perpetuate a peculiar intellectualism which is divorced from the community in which these institutions are embedded.
  • Need to rethink the one-nation-one curriculum: One-nation-one-curriculum certainly has some advantages in enabling mobility of some jobs, especially in the national bureaucracy and a multinational economy.
    • Cost to the developmental needs: But one-nation-one-curriculum comes at the cost of the developmental needs of the states and the emergence of good jobs there.
  • Turning demographic dividend into a nightmare: The above-stated asymmetry is behind the aspirational dysfunction in higher education. It is this disconnect between jobs, needs and knowledge and the absence of role models, which is slowly turning our demographic dividend into a nightmare on the streets.




Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Teaching the teacherop-ed of the day


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Need to reform the teacher education system in India.


Our teacher education system must be aligned with global standards.

Learning crisis and teacher vacancies in India

  • Teacher education as a status check on schooling education: Comparable to the role of a thermometer in diagnosing fever, an assessment of the quality of teacher education can be a status check on the schooling system.
    • Teachers remain at the heart of the issue, and translating schooling into learning is a critical challenge.
  • The gravity of learning crisis: The learning crisis is evident in the fact that almost half of the children in grade 5 in rural India cannot solve a simple two-digit subtraction problem,
    • While 67 per cent of children in grade 8 in public schools score less than 50 per cent in competency-based assessments in mathematics.
  • Teacher vacancies: India is dealing with a scenario of significant teacher vacancies, which are to the tune of almost 60-70 per cent in some states.
  • In fact, there are over one lakh single-teacher schools present across the country.
  • Excess teachers produced by TEIs: On the other hand, there are 17,000-odd Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) that are responsible for preparing teachers through programmes such as the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed), and Diploma in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed).
    • 19 lakh teachers every year: Taking their sanctioned intake into account, at full operation, these TEIs could generate over 19 lakh freshly trained teachers every year as against the estimated annual requirement of 3 lakh teachers.
    • To put things in perspective, currently, there are about 94 lakh teachers across all schools in India.
    • Every year, the teacher education system could, therefore, be producing one-fifth of the total number of school teachers.

The quality aspect of the teachers

  • Poor quality teachers: Not only are these TEIs generating a surplus supply of teachers, but they are also producing poor-quality teachers.
  • Pass percentage in eligibility test below 25%: Besides it being reflected in the dismal state of learning across schools, the pass-percentage in central teacher eligibility tests that stipulate eligibility for appointments as teachers has not exceeded 25 per cent in recent years.
    • This begs a pertinent question — how did we get here?

What are the reasons for such problems?

  • The answers lie in:  The inadequacies of planning, regulation, policy and organisational structures.
  • The role and issues in NCTE: The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and its four regional committees (north, south, east and west), established by statute, are responsible for teacher education in India.
    • Toothless in terms of powers: The Act assigns disproportionate power to the regional committees which grant programme affiliation while the Council has been rendered toothless.
  • Proliferation of sus-standard TEIs: Perverted incentives, widespread corruption and commercialisation have resulted in a massive proliferation of sub-standard TEIs.
    • In fact, while most of these TEIs are financially unviable, some function out of tiny rooms with duplicate addresses, and a few could even be selling degrees at a fixed price.
    • No system to ensure the entry of meritorious: These institutes function in isolation from the rest of the higher education system, and there is no system to assess and accredit them. Consequently, there is no systemic sieve to ensure the entry of only motivated and meritorious individuals into the teacher education space.
  • Disparity regional spread of TEIs: A more granular look reveals disparities across regions and programmes offered.
    • One-third in UP: Almost one-third of the TEIs are concentrated in Uttar Pradesh.
    • In fact, Ghazipur, a district in UP with a population of around one lakh, has a whopping 300 TEIs.
    • Approximately half of the total TEIs are in the northern region with Rajasthan having the second-largest number of institutes.
  • Poor planning: While there are about 17 recognised teacher education programmes, a majority of TEIs offer only B.Ed and D.El.Ed programmes.
    • This reinforces the point of poor planning as the country is actually facing a shortage of subject teachers in secondary schools and teacher-educators for whom a Master of Education (M.Ed) degree is a requisite (offered in less than 10 per cent of the TEIs).
  • Outdated curriculum: Adding to the mix of challenges is an outdated teacher preparation curriculum framework that was last updated over a decade ago.
  • Regulation by multiple agencies: On the governance front, multiple agencies have oversight on teacher education.

Way forward

  • Collect the credible data: Any reform initiative must be built on credible data.
    • No data available: To date, there is no accurate real-time database of the number and details of teacher education institutes, students enrolled and programmes offered.
    • How the data can be helpful? Such data could be used to create a comprehensive plan for the sector, devising the optimal number of TEIs, their regional spread and programme-wise intake.
    • One cannot but underscore the significance of proper planning. The teachers will concur.
  • Develop the system of assessment and accreditation: An accurate system of assessment and accreditation must be developed to ensure high-quality teacher education.
    • The National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC), responsible for quality-standards in higher education, has only covered 30 per cent of all institutes since its establishment back in 1994.
    • Given the extensive landscape of the teacher education sector alone and current capacity constraints, it is necessary that multiple accreditation agencies be empanelled.
    • A common accreditation framework should be designed through a consultative process including all relevant stakeholders to facilitate its wider acceptability.
    • A transparent and credible system of accreditation could form the bedrock for weeding out substandard TEIs and propelling quality improvements in the rest.
  • The curriculum of global quality: Core determinant of quality is the curriculum which must be regularly revamped and revised to ensure that our teacher education system is aligned to global standards.
    • Ideally, given that teacher education requires a good mix of curricular inputs and good-quality pedagogy, experts are rightly advocating for a shift towards integrated four-year subject-specific programmes to be housed in multidisciplinary colleges and universities.
    • In the first phase, these may be initiated in select central and state universities.
    • Potential to outsource teachers: This could also potentially serve as an avenue for India to outsource its surplus high-quality teachers to over 70 countries that face a teacher shortage.
  • Administrative will and execution: Finally, reforms must be driven by administrative will and executed through a well-established governance mechanism, clearly establishing ownership and accountability for set work streams across multiple agencies.
    • The draft National Education Policy presents a ray of hope.
    • Its vision to restore integrity and credibility to the teacher education system needs to be translated into effective action.


India is estimated to have the largest workforce within the next decade. This means that a population bulge is on the cusp of entering the higher education ecosystem now. The pressing need of the hour is to focus on providing the best quality teacher education to those who aspire to build the future of this country.


Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019IOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : WEFFI

Mains level : Need for internationalization of Indian education system



India has jumped five ranks in the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019.


  • The report is published by The Economist Intelligence Unit. The report and index were commissioned by the Yidan Prize Foundation.
  • The index ranks countries based on their abilities to equip students with skill-based education.
  • The report analyses the education system from the perspective of skill-based education “in areas such as critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship, as well as digital and technical skills.”

Global scenario

  • Among the world’s largest economies, the US, UK, France and Russia all fell back in the index, while China, India and Indonesia took steps forward.
  • Finland was at the apex of the index, with strengths across each category followed by Sweden.

India’s performance

  • India ranked 35th on the overall index in 2019 with a total score of 53, based on three categories – policy environment, teaching environment and overall socio-economic environment.
  • India scored 56.3 in policy environment falling from a 61.5 score in 2018.
  • India’s score of 52.2 in the teaching environment category and 50.1 in the socio-economic environment category increased significantly from 32.2 and 33.3 in 2018 respectively.
  • Earlier, India ranked 40th with an overall score of 41.2 across categories in 2018.

What made India progress?

  • The report attributed India’s growth to the new education policy introduced by the government.
  • India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in the Union Budget 2020, had highlighted a
  • The New Education Policy announced in this year budget under ‘Aspirational India’ will focus on “greater inflow of finance to attract talented teachers, innovate and build better labs.
  • The policy will focus further on skill-based education.

Various shortcomings highlighted

  • The 2018 WEFFI report had highlighted the shortcomings in India’s education system emphasizing upon its inability to utilise the opportunity of internationalizing its higher education system.
  • A decentralized education system is another shortcoming of India’s education policy according to the 2019 report.
  • Well-intentioned policy goals relating to future skills development often do not get filtered downward, a hazard in economies such as the US and India that have large, decentralized education systems, the report said.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) 2020IOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GTCI 2020

Mains level : Unemployment in India

The Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) was recently published.

About the report

  • The GTCI report is compiled by INSEAD in collaboration with human resource firm Addeco and Google.
  • The report, which measures countries based on six pillars —
  1. enable
  2. attract
  3. grow
  4. retain talent
  5. vocation and technical skills
  6. global knowledge skills

Performance Analysis

  • India has climbed eight places to 72nd rank in the GTCI which was topped by Switzerland, the US and Singapore.
  • Sweden (4th), Denmark (5th), the Netherlands (6th), Finland (7th), Luxembourg (8th), Norway (9th) and Australia (10th) complete the top 10 league table.
  • In the BRICS grouping, China was ranked 42nd, Russia (48th), South Africa (70th) and Brazil at 80th position.
  • This year’s GTCI report explores how the development of AI is not only changing the nature of work but also forcing a re-evaluation of workplace practices, corporate structures and innovation ecosystems.

Remarks for India

  • India’s highest-ranked sub-pillar is employability, but the ability to match labour market demand and supply stands in contrast to the country’s poor “mid-level skills”, which result in a mediocre score in vocational and technical skills.
  • India’s poor ability to attract and retain talent is its greatest challenge.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

SATCOM technologyPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EDUNET

Mains level : Applications of SATCOM

The Rajasthan government has started using satellite communication technology in a big way to enhance the learning outcome in educational institutions and generate awareness about social welfare schemes while giving priority to the five aspirational districts selected by NITI Aayog in the State.


Rajasthan has taken an initiative to provide the facility of receive only terminals (ROT) and satellite interactive terminals (SIT) for getting the services of subject experts in the government schools and colleges and propagate various schemes in the remote areas with no Internet connectivity.

What are ROT and SIT?

  • Satellite Interactive Terminal (SIT) is one of the six selected user networks used by CEC-UGC.
  • It is operating independently with their user terminals anywhere in the main land of India.
  • It has one main teaching end along with remote SITs and ROTs.
  • At present, there are over hundred SITs and ROTs under CEC EDUSAT network, installed at various colleges, and Universities across the country.



  • EDUSAT is the first Indian Satellite built exclusively for serving the educational sector. It was launched in September 2004 by the ISRO.
  • The satellite based distance education system enables virtual classrooms at rural and remote locations across the country.
  • Consortium for Educational Communication (CEC) has started two-way audio-video communication through EDUSAT network from 5th September 2005.
  • ISRO set up a nationwide multi-user educational network in its EDUSAT national Ku – band.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Explained: How Indian govt set up IITs with help from several countriesExplained

  • Recently a German student at IIT Madras was asked to leave the country “immediately”, days after he attended protests against the CAA and the proposed NRC.
  • As it happens, IIT Madras was established with the help of West German technical expertise more than six decades ago.
  • Apart from Madras, the Bombay, Kanpur, and Delhi IITs were also founded with assistance derived from foreign collaborations.

Why did India decide to rope in foreign countries for setting up IITs, and which countries helped?

  • The idea of developing modern engineering education took shape after British rule ended.
  • Then PM Jawaharlal Nehru implemented the blueprint with the first IIT, established at Kharagpur in the eastern part of India in July 1951.
  • Nehru wanted Indian engineering schools to be among the best in the world, so he enlisted some of the leading higher education institutions of the West to develop them.
  • Seeking external technical and financial help was also inevitable as national resources were inadequate for the task.
  • Help from different countries also meant a diversified engineering and technical education system would result.
  • Politically, such an amalgamation fit with Nehru’s vision of nonalignment with any superpower.

The First IIT

  • The first IIT at Kharagpur in West Bengal established in 1951 drew faculty members from the US, UK, Ireland, France, USSR, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Poland.

IIT Bombay – USSR

  • For the second IIT at Bombay, the UNESCO arranged the donation of equipment and technical expertise from the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc countries in 1956.
  • The institute has received substantial assistance in the form of equipment and expert services from the USSR through the UNESCO from 1956 to 1973.
  • Under the bilateral agreement of 1965, the Government of USSR provided additional assistance to supplement the Aid Programme already received by the institute through UNESCO.

IIT Madras – West Germany

  • The third IIT was set up in 1959 after the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) offered assistance to set up the institute during PM Nehru’s visit to the country in 1956.
  • Subsequently, an Indo-German agreement was signed at Bonn in 1959 which provided for the services of German professors and training facilities for Indian faculty members and the supply of scientific and technical equipment.

IIT Kanpur – USA

  • Established in 1959, this IIT was developed under collaboration with American researchers as part of the Kanpur Indo-American Programme.
  • During the period 1962-72, the Institute received technical assistance under KIAP from a consortium of nine leading Institutions of USA.
  • Under the program, faculty members from these Institutions assisted the Institute in the setting up of the academic programs and development of laboratories for instruction as well as research.

IIT Delhi – UK

  • This was the fifth IIT, established in 1961.
  • The GoI negotiated with the British Government for collaboration in setting up an Institute of Technology at Delhi.
  • The British Government agreed in principle to such a collaboration, but were inclined initially to start in a modest way.
  • It was therefore agreed that a College of Engineering & Technology should be established at Delhi with their assistance.
  • Later H.R.H. Prince Philips, Duke of Edinburgh, during his visit to India, laid the foundation stone of the College at Hauz Khas on January 28, 1959.


Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT)

  • The IITs are autonomous public institutes of higher education governed by the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961.
  • This act has declared them as institutions of national importance and lays down their powers, duties, and framework for governance.
  • Each IIT is autonomous, linked to the others through a common council (IIT Council), which oversees their administration.
  • The Minister of Human Resource Development is the ex officio Chairperson of the IIT Council.
  • The resident of India is the most powerful person in the organizational structure of Indian Institutes of Technology, being the ex officio Visitor and having residual powers.
  • In the 2019 QS World University Ranking, IIT Bombay ranked highest at 162, followed by IIT Delhi (172), IIT Madras (264), IIT Kanpur (283), IIT Kharagpur (295), IIT Roorkee (381) and IIT Guwahati (472).
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] EChO NetworkPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EChO Network

Mains level : Need for inter-disciplinary approach

EChO network to catalyze cross-disciplinary leadership in India has been recently launched.

EChO Network

  • It is a national program to provide a template for cross-disciplinary leadership in India with the specific focus of increasing research, knowledge, and awareness of Indian ecology and the environment has been launched.
  • The purpose of this Network is to bring all those together to share knowledge and synergize efforts under the umbrella of science.
  • It aims to train a new generation of educators and students who can identify and solve problems in an interdisciplinary manner to tackle real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, ecology, and technology.

Whose initiative?

The initiative has drawn in partners from Government, industry and academia, with the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Govt. of India steering the program under the guidance of Prof. Shannon Olsson, Director, EChO Network.


  • India faces unprecedented threats to its human environmental and ecosystems, solving which requires a confluence of India’s strong technological expertise and knowledge of the natural world itself.
  • EChO Network would develop a national network to catalyse a new generation of Indians who can synthesize interdisciplinary concepts and tackle real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, ecology, and technology.
  • With no precedent for such a network anywhere in the world, EChO Network establishes a new platform to change how science is embedded in our modern society.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[oped of the day] The many structural flaws in India’s higher education systemop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Institutions of Eminence

Mains level : Higher Education quality in India


The furore surrounding fee hikes at the Jawaharlal Nehru University has spurred deeper questions about the quality of university education. 

Higher Education

    • India’s higher education system is structurally flawed and underfunded.
    • This crisis will affect innovation and human capital, the two pillars of labour productivity and GDP growth.
    • It will hurt India’s largest demographic of its potential.

Fault Lines

    • A surge in women’s enrolment does not necessarily imply better outcomes. 
    • ‘India Skills Report’ suggests that only 47% of Indian graduates are employable.
    • India has startlingly low faculty figures.

Faculty shortage

    • Faculty vacancies at government institutions are at 50% on average. 
    • A Deloitte gathering of 63 Deans of top-tier institutions revealed that 80% listed lack of quality faculty as their biggest concern. 
    • The problem lies in increased demand and stagnant supply. 
    • The number of institutions has surged in India since the 2000s, while the number of students doing PhD has remained constant. 
    • There are over a 1,00,000 India-born PhDs in universities around the world. They are kept away by paltry salaries and poor funding. 
    • China attracted Chinese-origin PhDs back home with dollar salaries and monetary incentives for published research. 
    • Tsinghua University is designed on the Western model of teaching and research and is even ahead of MIT in terms of published papers.

The problem of Indian universities

    • Indian universities separate research and teaching activities, depriving students of exposure to cutting-edge ideas. 
    • Monetary incentives for academia are practically non-existent.
    • Indian R&D expenditure at 0.62% of GDP is one of the lowest in emerging economies. 
    • Indian universities rank low in both research and teaching. 
    • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, at rank 155, was our highest in the Scimago Institutions Rankings (SIR) for research. 6 Chinese institutes figured in the top 50.

Macroeconomic impact

    • These flaws could affect macroeconomic indicators such as labour productivity, determined by innovation and human capital. 
    • The workers of tomorrow need to transition to the formal, non-agricultural sector, with higher education credentials.
    • An increase in research could lead to more innovation in the economy. It might drive up labour productivity. 
    • The Draft National Education Policy (DNEP) proposed ambitious reforms. It aims to double education spending to 6% of GDP and close the research-teaching divide in higher education. 
    • It is coupled with an ‘Institutions of Eminence’ programme started in 2018 that gave increased funding to some research universities. 


    • The dramatic increases may not be politically feasible.
    • The implementation of such reforms may go the path of previous NEPs — watered down and eventually shelved.

Way ahead

    • The government needs to ensure that higher education’s role in innovation and human capital is not ignored. 
    • The reforms must be pushed through and must lead to legislation that will fund research-based universities. 
    • Only this can bring a culture of discovery and accountability to India’s higher education institutions.


Institutions of Eminence

Institution of Eminence Scheme

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.



From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PISA test

Mains level : Significance of PISA examination

Students of Chandigarh’s government schools gears up to represent India in the Programme for International Student Assessment test in 2021.

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

  • The PISA is a study done to produce comparable data on education policy and outcomes across countries.
  • It is initiated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental economic organisation with 36 member countries,
  • The study, which began in the year 2000, conducts a test evaluating 15-year-olds in member and non-member countries to assess the quality and inclusivity of school systems in these countries.
  • The PISA test is held every three years and the next test will be held in 2021, in which students from government schools in Chandigarh will represent India.

Who sets the test?

  • The test is set by educational experts from across the world.
  • Until now, experts from more than eighty countries have contributed towards framing the test questions, mostly from countries that have already participated in the test.

What does the test entail?

  • Unlike conventional tests and exams, the PISA test does not assess students on their memory, but attempts to evaluate whether students can apply the knowledge they have gained through primary and secondary education.
  • Apart from subjects like math, reading comprehension and science; since 2015 the test also includes an optional section on innovative subjects such as collaborative problem-solving and financial literacy.
  • Further, it evaluates whether students can solve mathematical problems or explain phenomena through scientific thinking or interpretation of text.
  • The test is taken in the language of instruction that the students are familiar with.

Who gives the test?

  • There is no hard and fast rule on who can apply to take the test and who cannot. Countries usually volunteer to take the test.
  • In case, making all 15-year-olds in the country take the test is not feasible, regions are identified within the country where the test can be conducted.
  • Within the region, individual schools are chosen which are approved by the PISA governing board and evaluated using stringent criteria. These schools represent the country’s education system.

What is the aim of the test?

  • The aim of the test is not to rank the countries which volunteer to participate in the evaluation, but to give a comprehensive analysis of how education systems are working in terms of preparing its students for higher education and subsequent employment.
  • After collecting results from across the world, experts translate these results into data points which are evaluated to score the countries.
  • If a country scores well, it suggests that not only does it has an effective education system but an inclusive one, in which students from privileged and underprivileged backgrounds perform equally well.
  • Further, the test evaluates whether the education system in these countries teach students adequate social and community skills, which will enable the students to excel holistically as a member of the workforce.
  • OECD also hopes that the test will allow countries to learn from each other about effective education policies and improve their own systems, using others as examples.

How has India performed in the PISA test?

  • India has participated in the PISA test only once before, in 2009.
  • In this round of PISA, where students from Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu sat for the test, India ranked 72nd out of 73 countries, outranking only Kyrgistan.
  • Since then, India has strayed away from the test until now, for students from Chandigarh will be sitting for the test in 2021.
  • Approximately 1.75 lakh students from government schools in Chandigarh, along with 600 Navodaya Vidyalayas and 3,000 Kendra Vidyalayas will take the three-hour long PISA test in 2021.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

QS World University Rankings for AsiaIOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : QS World University Rankings for Asia

Mains level : State of higher education in India

In the latest QS World University Rankings for Asia, 96 Indian institutions rank among 550 for the continent.

About the rankings

  • QS World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).
  • It was previously known as Times Higher Education–QS World University Rankings.


  • The National University of Singapore is ranked Asia’s best for the second consecutive year.
  • It is followed by Nanyang Technological University, which has risen from 3rd to 2nd; and the University of Hong Kong.

India’s performance

  • The best performing institution from India is IIT Bombay, which drops one place to 34th position. It is followed by IIT Delhi at 43rd place and IIT Madras at 50th.
  • IIT Bombay is the best Indian university in the ‘Academic Reputation’ indicator, which utilises the insights of over 94,000 academics regarding university quality.
  • It ranks 32nd in Asia in this dimension. IIT Delhi (34th) and the University of Delhi (50th) are next.
  • In the ‘Employer Reputation’ indicator, which utilises the insights of over 44,000 employers regarding the quality of a university’s graduates, IIT Bombay ranks 21st in Asia.
  • There are four other Indian universities among the top 50 (IIT Delhi, IIT Madras, University of Delhi and IIT Kharagpur).
  • India dominates the ‘Staff with PhD’ indicator with seven institutions achieving the perfect 100.00 score and raking No. 1 tied in this metric. All seven are IITs — Madras, Kharagpur, Kanpur, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Patna, and Ropar.
  • In the research indicators, India boasts five universities among the top 50 in the ‘Citations per Paper’ metric, and six among the top 50 in the ‘Papers per Faculty’ metric.

Comparison with China

  • Only Mainland China is more represented than India, with 118 featured universities.
  • While Mainland China has four in the top 10 this year, India does not yet have a university among the top 30.
  • The 96 Indian universities featured in the rankings include eight among the top 100, and 31 among the top 250. Of these 31, 18 dropped compared to last year, 12 gained ground and one remained stable.
  • Of the 96 Indian universities ranked, 20 are brand-new entries.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Kartavya PortalPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kartavya Portal

Mains level : Nagrik Kartavya Paalan Abhiyan

Union HRD Minister has launched the kartavya.ugc.ac.in portal on the occasion of ‘Constitution Day’ as a part of countrywide year long Nagrik Kartavya Paalan Abhiyan.

Kartavya Portal

  • The portal will be used primarily for holding monthly essay competitions for students as well as other activities like quizzes, debates, poster making etc pertaining to Nagrik Kartavya Paalan Abhiyan.
  • This will make them aware that rights are automatically realized when we follow our duties religiously.
  • This principle will help the students to channelize their talents and capabilities in the right direction which will help them realize their mission with ease.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

IMD World Talent Ranking ReportIOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the ranking

Mains level : HRD in India

India has slipped 6 places to 59th rank on a global annual list of 63 countries, according to the latest edition of IMD World Talent Ranking, which was topped by Switzerland.

IMD World Talent Ranking

  • The ranking is based on the performance in three main categories — investment and development, appeal and readiness.
  • Switzerland retained its title as the world’s top talent hub, while Europe lead the way in fostering the best conditions for competitiveness in a skills-scarce global economy.
  • Denmark was placed second and Sweden, was in the third place.
  • The Top 10 was completed by Austria (4th), Luxembourg (5th), Norway (6th), Iceland (7th), Finland (8th), the Netherlands (9th) and Singapore (10th).
  • The countries at the top of the rankings share strong levels of investment in education and a high quality of life.

India’s low performance

  • India ranked low due to low quality of life and expenditure on education.
  • India is also lagging behind fellow BRICs countries – China ranked 42nd on the list, Russia (47th) and South Africa (50th).
  • India also witnessed one of the sharpest declines among Asian economies owing to low quality of life, negative impact of brain drain, and the low priority of its economy on attracting and retaining talents.

Other Asian neighbours

  • Meanwhile, China ranked in the lower half of the index. China (42nd) fell 3 places due to low ranking on government expenditure per student, cost of living index and exposure to particle pollution.
  • In Asia, Singapore, along with Hong Kong SAR (15th) and Taiwan (20th) lead in terms of talent competitiveness due to the readiness of talent pool.
  • Singapore rose from 13th to 10th position compared to last year, Hong Kong SAR from 18th to 15th, and Taiwan from 27th to 20th.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

QS India Ranking 2020IOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : QS India Ranking 2020

Mains level : State of higher education in India

  • The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) India Rankings 2020 was recently released.

Top institutions in India

About QS Rankings

  • The British higher education analysts QS has ranked the higher education institutions in India on the basis eight parameters which have different weightage.
  • The eight parameters with their weightage are academic reputation (30%), employer reputation (20%), faculty student ratio (20%), staff with PhD (10%), Papers per faculty (10%), citation per paper (5%), international faculty (2.5%) and international students (2.5%).
  • This is the second time QS has published separate ranking for top institutions in India.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[oped of the day] Let’s use cognitive science insights for better learningop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Teaching and education methods based on neuroscience

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.


Insights about how the human brain gathers and stores information have been accumulating for over a hundred years. But there’s a gap in mainstream education: good pedagogical practice—applying cognitive science has often taken a back-seat to convenience, scale and tradition. 

Better learning – redesign of existing education systems

    • We learn best in about 10-minute chunks
      • This is related to the way we form short-term memories in the brain. 
      • If learning exceeds that time, the mind begins to wander.
      • Lectures need to be extremely short to be effective. 
      • Recorded lectures, enabling viewers to pause, rewind or speed up a video, offer personalization, where students can learn at their own pace.
      • Learning through regular in-person lectures does not offer this flexibility.
    • Testing effect – When a learner is tested frequently about the material that she has just learnt, learning is better
      • For example, a learner who is given weaker cues for the test, and therefore struggles more to recall material, will learn better.
    • Spaced practice – Testing is best when spaced out over weeks or months.
      • This flies in the face of a prevalent approach of mass practice, in which a student might address a number of problems at the end of a chapter in a short span of time. 
      • This applies not just to academic learning, but also to sports and motor driving.
    • Fourth, content is best absorbed when topics are interspaced with one another.
      • A common practice in education is to take up topics in blocks: multiplication one day, say, followed by division a week later. 
      • Research points to the benefits of interleaving practice. 
    • Fill in the blankNovices have fewer predefined schema to digest new information. They suffer from high cognitive load because the working memory available is limited.
    • Tactile experience – in which a student physically feels angular momentum, or gestures to capture a phenomenon, have been shown to result in better learning than if the learning is purely abstract. 
    • Prototyping technologies such as 3D printing, Lego Mindstorms, the Arduino, the Raspberry Pi, App Inventor, and even the programming language Python, enable hands-on learning. 
    • Project-based learning, problem-based learning, and task-oriented learning are all techniques that give students more agency and purpose. 
    • Techniques such as game-based learning can lead a student through a series of tasks and create an environment where learning occurs naturally. An example is World Without Oil, an alternate reality game that leads players through a post-oil world, forcing them to think about the implications of an oil shock.


We know far more about how we learn today than we did some decades ago. Yet, we are not applying these insights to education. Modern schools and universities must adopt newer pedagogical models and break away from centuries-old norms.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Ramanujan PrizePrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ramanujan Prize

Mains level : Not Much

  • The SASTRA Ramanujan prize for 2019 will be awarded to mathematician Adam Harper, Assistant Professor with the University of Warwick, England.

Ramanujan prize

  • Every year, this prize is awarded by SASTRA University on its campus near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, on Ramanujan’s birth anniversary, December 22.
  • The prize carries a citation and an award of $10,000 and is conferred annually on mathematicians from across the world who are less than 32 years of age, working in an area influenced by the genius Srinivasa Ramanujan.
  • The age limit is 32 years to commemorate the fact that Srinivasa Ramanujan accomplished a phenomenal body of work in this short span.
  • The Award has gained global repute ever since it was instituted in 2005 and today is easily amongst the top five awards of this type for mathematics.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] Inequality of another kindop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Faheema Shirin v. State of Kerala Judgment

Mains level : Expanded scope of Art. 21


  • Recently, in Faheema Shirin v. State of Kerala, the Kerala High Court declared the right to Internet access as a fundamental right forming a part of the right to privacy and the right to education under Article 21.
  • While this is a welcome move, it is important to recognise the right to Internet access as an independent right.

Digital inequality

  • Inequality is a concept that underpins most interventions focussed on social justice and development.
  • It resembles the mythological serpent Hydra in Greek mythology — as the state attempts to deal with one aspect of inequality, many new aspects keep coming up.
  • In recent times, several government and private sector services have become digital. Some of them are only available online.
  • This leads to a new kind of inequality, digital inequality, where social and economic backwardness is exacerbated due to information poverty, lack of infrastructure, and lack of digital literacy.

Indian case

  • According to the Deloitte report, ‘Digital India: Unlocking the Trillion Dollar Opportunity’, in mid-2016, digital literacy in India was less than 10%.
  • We are moving to a global economy where knowledge of digital processes will transform the way in which people work, collaborate, consume information, and entertain themselves.
  • This has been acknowledged in the SDGs as well as by the Indian government and has led to the Digital India mission.

Benefits of Digital Equality

  • Offering services online has cost and efficiency benefits for the government and also allows citizens to bypass lower-level government bureaucracy.
  • However, in the absence of Internet access and digital literacy enabling that access, there will be further exclusion of large parts of the population, exacerbating the already existing digital divide.

The economics behind

  • Moving governance and service delivery online without the requisite progress in Internet access and digital literacy also does not make economic sense.
  • For instance, Common Service Centres, which operate in rural and remote locations, are physical facilities which help in delivering digital government services and informing communities about government initiatives.
  • While the state may be saving resources by moving services online, it also has to spend resources since a large chunk of citizens cannot access these services.
  • The government has acknowledged this and has initiated certain measures in this regard.
  • The Bharat Net programme, aiming to have an optical fibre network in all gram panchayats, is to act as the infrastructural backbone for having Internet access all across the country.

The importance of digital literacy

  • Internet access and digital literacy have implications beyond access to government services.
  • Digital literacy allows people to access information and services, collaborate, and navigate socio-cultural networks.
  • In fact, the definition of literacy today must include the ability to access and act upon resources and information found online.

What’s so special with the recent judgement?

  • The Kerala HC judgment acknowledges the role of the right to access Internet in accessing other fundamental rights.
  • It is imperative that the right to Internet access and digital literacy be recognised as a right in itself.
  • In this framework the state would have-
  1. a positive obligation to create infrastructure for a minimum standard and quality of Internet access as well as capacity-building measures which would allow all citizens to be digitally literate and
  2. a negative obligation prohibiting it from engaging in conduct that impedes, obstructs or violates such a right.

Expanded scope

  • A right to Internet access would also further provisions given under Articles 38(2) [minimising inequalities in income] and 39 [right to an adequate means of livelihood] of the Constitution.
  • It has now become settled judicial practice to read fundamental rights along with DPSP with a view to defining the scope and ambit of the former.

For an ‘information society’

  • Unequal access to the Internet creates and reproduces socio-economic exclusions.
  • It is important to recognise the right to Internet access and digital literacy to alleviate this situation, and allow citizens increased access to information, services, and the creation of better livelihood opportunities.


  • The courts have always interpreted Article 21 as a broad spectrum of rights considered incidental and/or integral to the right to life.
  • Recognising this right will also make it easier to demand accountability from the state, as well as encourage the legislature and the executive to take a more proactive role in furthering this right.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19DOMR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AISHE, Various terms mentioned

Mains level : Key highlights of the survey

  • Union HRD Ministry has released the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19.
  • AISHE 2018-19 findings are based on the responses from 962 universities, 38,179 colleges and 9,190 standalone institutions.

All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE)

  • To portray the status of higher education in the country, Ministry of HRD has endeavored to conduct an annual web-based All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) since 2010-11.
  • The survey covers all the Institutions in the country engaged in higher education.
  • Data is being collected on several parameters such as teachers, student enrolment, programmes, examination results, education finance, and infrastructure.
  • Indicators of educational development such as Institution Density, Gross Enrolment Ratio, Pupil-teacher ratio, Gender Parity Index, Per Student Expenditure will also be calculated from the data collected through AISHE.

Highlights of the survey

Fall in professional education pursuance

  • The government defines professional education as higher education programmes that are meant for students to acquire knowledge, skills, and competencies for a specific profession or a class of occupations.
  • Student’s enrolment in B.Tech and M.Tech programmes has seen a dramatic fall.
  • This has led to an overall dip in enrolment in professional courses, which has hit a four-year low.
  • Since the academic year 2015-16, the number of students pursuing professional courses at the undergraduate level has decreased by 7,21,506 (roughly 9%).
  • Enrolment in PG professional programmes dropped by almost 32%, from 18,07,646 in 2015-16 to 12,36,404 in 2018-19.

Fall in enrolment

  • The drastic dip comes at a time when student enrolment in higher education is at an all-time high.
  • According to the survey, total enrolment in higher education has been estimated to be 3.74 crore, as opposed to 3.66 crore the year before.
  • The waning popularity of professional degrees seems to have renewed interest in academics.

Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER)

  • GER is a statistical measure for determining the number of students enrolled in UG, PG and research-level studies within the country and expressed as a percentage of the population in the 18-23 years age group.
  • According to AISHE 2018-19, the present GER in higher education is 26.3%, up from 25.8% in 2017-18.

Gender Parity on rise

  • Gender Parity Index (GPI), the female: male ratio in higher education measures progress towards gender equity.
  • Out of the total 3.74 crore students in higher education in 2018-19, 1.92 crore are men, and 1.82 crore are women.
  • The GPI has increased over the last five years, from 0.92 in 2014-15 to 1 in 2018-19.

Humanities is more popular

  • The highest number of students are enrolled in Arts courses.
  • The total number of students enrolled in Arts courses are 93.49 lakh, of which 46.96% are male and 53.03% are female.
  • Science is the second major stream with 47.13 lakh students, of which 49% are male and 51% are female.
  • Commerce is the third major stream with 40.3 lakh students enrolled. The share of male students enrolled in Commerce is 51.2%, whereas female enrolment is 48.8%,” the survey states.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] NEAT SchemeGovt. SchemesPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NEAT Scheme

Mains level : Applications of AI in HRD

  • Ministry of HRD has announced a new PPP Scheme, National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) for using technology for better learning outcomes in Higher Education.

NEAT Scheme

  • MHRD proposes to launch and operationalize NEAT in early November 2019.
  • The objective is to use Artificial Intelligence to make learning more personalized and customised as per the requirements of the learner.
  • This requires development of technologies in Adaptive Learning to address the diversity of learners.
  • There are a number of start-up companies developing this and MHRD would like to recognise such efforts and bring them under a common platform so that learners can access it easily.
  • Educating the youth is a National effort and MHRD proposes to create a National Alliance with such technology developing EdTech Companies through a PPP model.

 Role of MoHRD

  • MHRD would act as a facilitator to ensure that the solutions are freely available to a large number of economically backward students.
  • MHRD would create and maintain a National NEAT platform that would provide one-stop access to these technological solutions.
  • EdTech companies would be responsible for developing solutions and manage registration of learners through the NEAT portal. They would be free to charge fees as per their policy.
  • As their contribution towards the National cause, they would have to offer free coupons to the extent of 25% of the total registrations for their solution through NEAT portal.
  • MHRD would distribute the free coupons for learning to the most socially/economically backward students.


  • AICTE would be the implementing agency for NEAT programme.
  • The scheme shall be administered under the guidance of an Apex Committee constituted by MHRD.
  • Independent Expert Committees would be constituted for evaluating and selecting the EdTech solutions.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Jeevan Kaushal ProgrammePriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Jeevan Kaushal Programme

Mains level : Importance of life skills

Jeevan Kaushal Programme

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has launched a “life skills” (Jeevan Kaushal) programme in the curriculum for under-graduate courses across the country.
  • The new programme, which for 8 credit points, can be accommodated in any semester and is aimed at inculcating emotional and intellectual competencies in students develop verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
  • The programme will comprise four courses – communication, professional, leadership and universal human values and skills.
  • The programme will focus on team work, problem-solving and decision-making.
  • It will be effective tools in helping students develop practical knowledge that helps them when they start their careers and become responsible citizens.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

World University Rankings 2019IOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the ranking

Mains level : State of higher education in India

  • The World University Rankings was recently released by the UK-based Times Higher Education.
  • Oxford University continues to lead the rankings table followed by California Institute of Technology and University of Cambridge. Stanford University and MIT complete the top five table.

No Indian university this year

  • For the first time since 2012, no Indian institution featured among the top 300.
  • The country’s best performing institution, IISc-Bangalore, slipped 50 places from the 251-300 ranking cohort into the 301-350 bracket.
  • The dip was on account of a significant fall in its citation impact score offsetting improvements in research environment, teaching environment and industry income.

Why India slipped?

  • The best Indian institutions are generally characterized by relatively strong scores for teaching environment and industry income.
  • But they perform poorly when it comes to international outlook in comparison to both regional and international counterparts.

No mean downgrade

  • Even as India dropped out of the top 300, it increased its representation in the rankings from 49 universities last year to 56 this time.
  • As a result, India holds on to its place as the fifth most-represented nation in the world and the third most-represented in Asia (behind Japan and mainland China).
  • It has eight more universities than Germany, which is sixth in the country ranking, but 25 fewer than China.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Institution of Eminence SchemeGovt. Schemes


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the scheme

Mains level : Outreach of the scheme

Status granted to new institutions

  • The HRD Ministry has awarded the status of Institute of Eminence to the IIT-Madras, the IIT-Kharagpur, Delhi University, Benares Hindu University and the University of Hyderabad.
  • Four private universities — the Vellore Institute of Technology, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Jamia Hamdard University and the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology — were issued Letters of Intent to grant them the status.
  • The new greenfield Bharti Institute, a project of Satya Bharti Foundation, has also been issued the letter.


  • These institutions will not be subject to UGC inspections, and are free to set their own courses and curriculum, fee structure and merit-based admission systems.
  • Each university will be required to sign a MoU with the Ministry, laying out its plan to achieve the objective of becoming a world-class institution.
  • They will have complete academic, administrative and financial autonomy.
  • The public institutions on the list will then be eligible for a government grant of ₹1,000 crore.


Institutions of Eminence scheme

  • This scheme under the Union HRD ministry aims to project Indian institutes to global recognition.
  • The selected institutes will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy.
  • Only higher education institutions currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) are eligible to apply for the eminence tag.
  • The private Institutions of Eminence can also come up as greenfield ventures provided the sponsoring organisation submits a convincing perspective plan for 15 years.

What will be the benefit for such institutions?

  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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] NISHTHA InitiativePIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NISHTHA

Mains level : About the initiative

  • Union HRD Ministry has launched the National Mission to improve Learning Outcomes at the Elementary level- NISHTHA.


  • NISHTHA stands for National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement.
  • It is the largest teachers’ training programme of its kind in the world.
  • The basic objective of this massive training programme ‘NISHTHA’ is to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students.
  • The initiative is first of its kind wherein standardized training modules are developed at national level for all States and UTs.
  • However, States and UTs can contextualize the training modules and use their own material and resource persons also, keeping in view the core topics and expected outcomes of NISHTHA.
  • A Mobile App and Learning Management System (LMS) based on MOODLE (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) have been developed by NCERT.
  • LMS will be used for registration of Resource Persons and Teachers, dissemination of resources, training gap and impact analysis, monitoring, mentoring and measuring the progress online.

Training program

  • The Minister informed that the training will be conducted directly by 33120 Key Resource Persons (KRPs) and State Resource Persons (SRP) identified by the State and UTs.
  • They will in turn be trained by 120 National Resource Persons identified from NCERT, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), Kendriya Vidyalaya (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS), CBSE and NGOs.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

e-Rozgar Samachar launched to spread awareness about job opportunitiesGovt. Schemes


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ministry and details of the magazine

Mains level : Nothing much

The e-version of Rozgar Samachar has been launched by the Minister of Information & Broadcasting.


  1. Make aspirants aware of job opportunities in government sector including public sector enterprises
  2. Provide information and guidance about admission and career opportunities in various streams through career-oriented articles
  3. Meet the emerging challenge of young readers switching to electronic modes of communication


  1. Rozgar Samachar is the corresponding version of Employment News
  2. Employment News is the flagship weekly job journal from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
  3. It was launched in 1976 with a view to providing information on employment opportunities to the unemployed and underemployed youth of the country
  4. The job journal provides information related to job vacancies, job oriented training programs, admission notices related to job oriented exams of :
    1. Ministries/Departments/Offices/Organizations/Autonomous bodies/ Societies/ PSUs of the Central Government, State Government, and UT Administrations
    2. Nationalised banks/ RRBs /UPSC/SSC/ Constitutional and Statutory bodies
    3. Central/State Governments Universities/ Colleges/Institutes recognized by the UGC/AICTE
  5. It also provides editorial content on socio-economic issues and career guidance that helps youth in broadening their horizons
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

‘Paramarsh’ SchemePIBPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Scheme

Mains level : Nothing Much


The Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” launched Paramarsh’ – a University Grants Commission (UGC) scheme for Mentoring National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) Accreditation Aspirant Institutions to promote Quality Assurance in Higher Education.

Aim of Scheme

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said the scheme will be a paradigm shift in the concept of mentoring of institution by another well performing institution to upgrade their academic performance and enable them to get accredited by focusing in the area of curricular aspects, teaching-learning & evaluation, research, innovation, institutional values & practices etc.

The scheme is expected to have a major impact in addressing a national challenge of improving the quality of Higher Education in India.

Hub and Spoke Model

  • The Minister informed that the Scheme will be operationalized through a “Hub & Spoke” model wherein the Mentor Institution, called the “Hub” is centralized and will have the responsibility of guiding the Mentee institution through the secondary branches the “Spoke” through the services provided to the mentee for self improvement.
  • This allows a centralized control over operational efficiency, resource utilization to attain overall development of the mentee institution.

Mentee Institutions

  • He further informed that scheme will lead to enhancement of overall quality of the Mentee Institutions and enhance its profile as a result of improved quality of research, teaching and learning methodologies.
  • Mentee Institution will also have increased exposure and speedier adaptation to best practices. “Paramarsh” scheme will also facilitate sharing of knowledge, information and opportunities for research collaboration and faculty development in Mentee Institutions.


This “Paramarsh” scheme will target 1000 Higher Education Institutions for mentoring with a specific focus on quality as enumerated in the UGC “Quality Mandate”. Mentor-Mentee relationship will not only benefit both the institutions but also provide quality education to the 3.6 crore students who are enrolling to Indian Higher Education system at present.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Parliament passes the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019Bills/Act/LawsPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the bill, President's assent

Mains level : Particulars of the Bill

  • The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019 has been passed by both the houses of Parliament.
  • The Bill will now be sent for President’s assent.

About the Bill

  • The Bill replaces the “The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Ordinance, 2019”.
  • The new bill considers the University/College as one unit restoring earlier reservation system based on 200 point roster.
  • No longer will ‘Department/Subject’ be treated as one unit.
  • This decision will:
  1. Allow up of more than 7000 existing vacancies in Central Educational Institutions and pave the way for filling up 3 lakh vacancies in the Government (Central and State) Educational institutions by direct recruitment in Teacher’s Cadre.
  2. Ensure compliance of the Constitutional Provisions of Articles 14, 16 and 21.
  3. Ensure full representation of the Scheduled Castes/ the Scheduled Tribes, the socially and Educationally Backward Classes and Economically Weaker Sections in direct recruitment in teachers’ cadres.
  • This decision is also expected to improve the teaching standards in the higher educational institutions by attracting all eligible talented candidates belonging SCs/STs/SEBCs/EWS.
  • It will also ensure providing of 10% reservation to EWS.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India’s Developing Economy (STRIDE)Govt. SchemesPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : STRIDE Scheme

Mains level : Trans-disciplinary Research in India

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved a new scheme – ‘Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India’s Developing Economy’ (STRIDE).


  • STRIDE will provide support to research projects that are socially relevant, locally need-based, nationally important and globally significant.
  • It shall support research capacity building as well as basic, applied and transformational action research that can contribute to national prioritiers with focus on inclusive human development.
  • It shall support creation, development and integration of new ideas, concepts and practices for public good and strengthening civil society.
  • It will strengthen research culture and innovation in colleges and Universities and help students and faculty to contribute towards India’s developing economy with help of collaborative research.

 A move for Trans-disciplinary research

  • Trans-disciplinary research is a team effort of investigators from different disciplines to create new conceptual, theoretical, methodological innovations that integrates and transcends beyond discipline-specific approaches to address a common problem.
  • Trans-disciplinary research goes beyond mere production of knowledge and extends to the practical use of the knowledge outside academic endeavour.
  • In essence, it takes into consideration the societal impact of knowledge enunciating as what should be the main aim of research.
  • It creates unity of intellectual frameworks beyond the disciplinary perspectives and solve problems by going beyond the boundaries of disciplines to involve various stakeholders.
  • Trans-disciplinary research generates knowledge through use of multi and inter-disciplinary concepts and integrates new theories among science and society.


  • To identify young talent, strengthen research culture, build capacity, and promote innovation and support trans-disciplinary research for India’s developing economy and national development.
  • To fund multi institutional network high-impact research projects in humanities and human sciences.

Components of the Scheme


  • It will endeavour to identify the motivated young talents with research and innovation aptitude in universities and colleges.
  • It will provide research capacity building in diverse disciplines by mentoring, nurturing and supporting young talents to innovate pragmatic solutions for local, regional, national and global problems.
  • This component is open to all disciplines for grant upto 1 crore.


  • It will be mainly to enhance problem solving skills with help of social innovation and action research to improve wellbeing of people and contribute for India’s developing economy.
  • Collaborations between universities, government, voluntary organizations and industries is encouraged under this scheme.
  • This component is open to all disciplines for grant upto 50 lakh – 1 crore.


  • It will fund high impact research projects in the identified thrust areas inhumanities and human sciences through national network of eminent scientists from leading institutions.
  • Disciplines eligible for funding under this component include: Philosophy, History, Archaeology, Anthropology, Psychology, Liberal Arts, Linguistics, Indian Languages and Culture, Indian Knowledge Systems, Law, Education, Journalism, Mass Communication, Commerce, Management, Environment and Sustainable Development.
  • Grant available for this component is upto 1 crore for one HEI and upto 5 crores for multi institutional network.
  • To encourage high quality high impact research in humanities, there is a provision to identify experts and invite them to develop a proposal.
  • UGC is also proposing to provide a grant of Rs 2 lakh for developing proposals.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP)Govt. SchemesPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EQUIP Programme

Mains level : Promoting India as a global study destination

  • The HRD Ministry has finalized and released a five-year vision plan named Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP) .
  • This has been done in accordance with the decision of the PM for finalizing a five-year vision plan for each Ministry.

Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP)

  • The Expert Groups drawn from senior academicians, administrators and industrialists, have suggested more than 50 initiatives that would transform the higher education sector completely.
  • The Groups have set the following goals for higher education sector:
  1. Double the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education and resolve the geographically and socially skewed access to higher education institutions in India
  2. Upgrade the quality of education to global standards
  3. Position at least 50 Indian institutions among the top-1000 global universities
  4. Introduce governance reforms in higher education for well-administered campuses
  5. Accreditation of all institutions as an   assurance of quality
  6. Promote Research & Innovation ecosystems for positioning India in the Top-3 countries in the world in matters of knowledge creation
  7. Double the employability of the students passing out of higher education
  8. Harness education technology for expanding the reach and improving pedagogy
  9. Promote India as a global study destination
  10. Achieve a quantum increase in investment in higher education
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] A policy to regulate coaching centresop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Need for regulating country's proxy education system


The ever growing industry

  • In May, a deadly fire at a coaching centre in Surat snuffed out 22 young lives.
  • The rate of suicides in Kota, where many students converge to prepare for entrance exams, remains high.
  • And yet, the coaching industry is rapidly growing.
  • Data from the NSSO’s 71st round reveal that more than a quarter of Indian students (a stupendous 7.1 crore) take private coaching.
  • Around 12% of a family’s expenses go towards private coaching, across rich and poor families alike.

What purpose do coaching institutions serve in society?

  • Various coaching centre can be attributed to enhance human capital. They serve the same purpose where schools and colleges lag.
  • But if they don’t, then they are imposing a huge emotional cost to society. They crush creativity.
  • In most cases, they only help a student to swiftly secure marks in some entrance exam, which is widely understood to be a sign of merit. This is a questionable connection.
  • To signal merit, exams are only one criterion, and not necessarily the best one.
  • So, coaching institutions exist to help people achieve only one idea of merit. This is a small benefit.
  • Confining students in classrooms and making them study subjects they often hate destroys their natural talent.
  • Hence, the social cost of these institutions outweighs their benefit by far. The industry needs a re-look.

Unregulated spaces in the industry

  • Economic theories suggest that when markets fail, governments need to be brought in.
  • Market failure may occur because of the presence of externalities or asymmetry in information.
  • Governments are also important because they act to coordinate moral norms.
  • On all these counts, coaching institutions emerge as the proverbial villains.
  • Hidden behind legislations meant for tiny shops (Shops and Establishment Act) as ‘other’ business, they run an empire of evening incarcerations that arrest creative freedom.

Hampering social capital

  • The coaching giants draw an entire generation of young minds and systematically erode their imagination.
  • They ignite psychological disorders in students, undermine mainstream education, impose huge opportunity costs to students, charge an exorbitant fee which is often untaxed, and yet remain unaccountable.
  • Several court cases on breach of promise of refund are underway.
  • The social costs are exacerbated by the absolute disregard for the well being of students, who are shoved into tiny rooms with little ventilation, let alone a fire exit.
  • Society bears the burden — only for the sake of finding out who is marginally better than the other in cramming for some exam.

Yet few are selling a valueless idea

  • Barring a few exceptions, coaching institutions sell a valued but costly idea.
  • Only those enterprises which have less value themselves play with the law.
  • To blame the systemic flaws in the implementation of safety laws and to blame corruption in the government is to normalize the lack of integrity in the entrepreneur who decided to violate the law.
  • To harp on lapses by the government is to turn a blind eye towards what kind of ethics we are drawing out of our enterprises, particularly those which purport to provide ‘education’.
  • Coaching institutions, of course, are not necessarily ethical entities. Most of them do not add to the value of education.

A common plight: No more knee-jerk reactions

  • The building in Surat had an illegally constructed terrace.
  • It had a wooden staircase that got burnt, thus disabling any possibility of escape.
  • It had no fire safety equipment, nor any compliance or inspection certificate.
  • The response of the State government was to shut down all coaching institutions in Gujarat until fire inspections were completed.
  • This was a typical knee-jerk reaction.

Need for a rational strategy

  • With such patterns of violating the laws, these inspections will only serve a tick-mark purpose.
  • Although government measures are more emotional than rational, they have achieved the purpose of drawing our attention to coaching centres.
  • In the last six months, three fire incidents have involved coaching institutions in Gujarat.

Way Forward

  • While the reason for the growth of coaching institutions is the entrance exam culture of India, what is urgently required is a policy on regulating them.
  • Some States have already passed laws to regulate the coaching industry — centres have to register with the government and meet certain basic criteria.
  • Existing State laws, however, do not evince a consistent rationale that could aid in framing national regulations.
  • There is also the Private Coaching Centres Regulatory Board Bill, 2016 in discussion.
  • While the discourse being triggered is a welcome step, it is now important to ensure regulations that emerge are agile, forward-looking and empowering.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

National Mission on Natural Language TranslationPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Mission on Natural Language Translation, PMSTIAC

Mains level : Need for Natural Language Translation

  • The Ministry of Electronics and IT will soon place before the Union Cabinet a proposal for Natural Language.

National Mission on Natural Language Translation

  • It aims to make science and technology accessible to all by facilitating access to teaching and researching material bilingually — in English and in one’s native Indian language.
  • It is one of the key missions identified by the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).
  • To overcome the language barrier, the government planned to set up an ecosystem which involved the Central and State agencies and start-ups.
  • To achieve this, the government plans to leverage a combination of machine translation and human translation.
  • The govt. is looking at speech-to-speech machine translation as well as text-to-text machine translation for this additional to human translation.


  • The IT ministry is the lead agency for implementation of the mission along with the Ministry of HRD and Department of Science and Technology.

Two pronged strategy

  • Translation activities can also help generate employment for educated unemployed.
  • The mission would help not just students but also teachers, authors, publishers, translation software developers and general readers.


  • The PM-STIAC is an overarching body that identifies challenges in certain areas of science and technology.
  • It then creates a road map to deal with these challenges and presents the recommendations to the Prime Minister.
  • Besides natural language translation, other missions identified by the body includes Quantum Frontier, AI, National Bio-diversity mission, electric vehicles, BioScience for Human Health and deep ocean exploration.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Equip ProjectGovt. SchemesPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EQUIP Project

Mains level : Promoting quality education in India

EQUIP Project

  • Equip stands for Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme.
  • The Ministry of HRD plans to launch this ambitious ₹1.5 lakh crore action plan to improve the quality and accessibility of higher education over the next five years.
  • The Centre would mobilise money from the marketplace through the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA).
  • The joint venture between the HRD Ministry and Canara Bank, set up in 2017, has been tasked with raising ₹1 lakh crore to finance infrastructure improvements in higher education by 2022.

Objectives of the project

The committees have drafted strategy to improve access to higher education, especially for underserved communities:

  • improve the gross enrolment ratio;
  • improve teaching and learning processes;
  • build educational infrastructure;
  • improve the quality of research and innovation;
  • use technology and online learning tools; and
  • work on accreditation systems, governance structures and financing.

A news NEP

  • This is being described as the implementation plan for the National Education Policy — a 2014 poll promise from the NDA.
  • The last NEP was released in 1986, with a revision in 1992.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2019IOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2019

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • The Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) report 2019 was recently published.

Global Talent Competitiveness Index

  • Launched in 2013, the GTCI is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.
  • The report, which covers 125 economies and 114 cities, is based on research conducted by in partnership with The Adecco Group and Tata Communications.
  • It aims to advance the current debate around entrepreneurial talent, providing practical tools and approaches to leverage the full potential of individuals and teams as an engine and a basis for innovation, growth, and ultimately competitiveness.

Performance worldwide

  • In the 2019 GTCI, six Asia-Pacific countries rank in the top 30: Singapore takes the lead in the region (2nd globally), followed by New Zealand (11th), Australia (12th), Japan (22nd), Malaysia (27th) and South Korea (30th).
  • Top-ranking countries share several characteristics; including having talent growth and management as a central priority, openness to entrepreneurial talent, open socio-economic policies as well as strong and vibrant ecosystems around innovation.
  • Singapore continues to occupy the top spot in Asia Pacific. It is the highest-ranked country in three of the six pillars – Enable, Attract, and Global Knowledge Skills.
  • It is also one of the strongest performers with respect to the pillar on Vocational and Technical Skills. However, it ranks low in Retain, signifying its relative weakness in retaining talent.

India’s Performance

  • India remains the laggard in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) region.
  • It was ranked 80 even as Singapore retained its leading position in the Asia-Pacific region for the sixth consecutive year.
  • It performs better than its lower-income peers when it comes to growing talent, primarily by virtue of the possibilities for Lifelong Learning and Access to Growth Opportunities.
  • An above-average Business and Labour Landscape and Employability raise the scores of the pillars related to Enable and Vocational and Technical Skills that are otherwise hampered by the remaining sub-pillars, the report said.

Challenges to India

  • Notwithstanding the scope for improvement across the board, India’s biggest challenge is to improve its ability to Attract and Retain talent.
  • Above all, there is a need to address its poor level of Internal Openness —in particular with respect to weak gender equality and low tolerances towards minorities and immigrants.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] Where are the education reforms?op-ed snap


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing Much

Mains level: Need for reforms in India’s tertiary education sector



From the Central Advisory Board of Education (in 2005) to industry (the 2003 Ambani-Birla report on education) and the NITI Aayog (in 2017), many have argued for granting greater autonomy to higher education institutes and universities, especially the top-rung ones.

Government’s reluctance in relinquishing the control

  • The IIM example should serve as a strong example of the government’s reluctance to give up control.
  • Though the government passed the IIM Act in 2017 to give the premier management education institutions unprecedented autonomy, it never freed them of the shackle of reservations.
  • the government last year reportedly wanted to amend the 2017 Act to force the IIMs to implement virtual fee caps—ironically, “without flouting the autonomous spirit of the IIM Act”.
  • this was despite the IIM Act itself having provisions placing reasonable restrictions on the IIMs’ use of surplus revenue.
  • government also wanted the IIMs to increase their intake, which, surely would have come at the cost of student-quality that is maintained through the rigorous admission procedure.
  • when it should be funding the creation of more IIM-like institutions, it would rather have the existing institutions dilute their standards.

Non-implementation of educational reforms

  • The New Education Policy—that is expected to outline the overall reforms vision for the education sector—is now stale business.
  • Two committees have submitted reports, and yet none have seen the light of day.
  • Similarly, the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), that was supposed to replace the inefficient UGC regime, is nowhere on the horizon.
  • The government had announced the Diksha initiative to facilitate the training of untrained school teachers; but, as an analysis of Budget numbers over the years, published in IndiaSpend, pointed out recently, the allocation for teachers’ training is a fraction of what it was a few years ago.
  • The Higher Education Funding Agency, that was supposed to finance infrastructure development—from an overall corpus of `1 lakh crore—at “all educational institutions under higher education, school education and institutions under ministry of health which is referred by the concerned ministry” under RISE 2022 had managed to approve projects worth only `10,000 crore by November last year, and that too only exclusively to top-billed institutions.

Way Forward

Our goal to be a world power, the resolving and restructuring of higher education is must, then only we will be able to harness the human potential and resources of nation to the fullest and channelize it for the growth of the

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Cultural Heritage Youth Leadership Programme (CHYLP)PIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ICHR

Mains level: Better governance and management of historical research


Cultural Heritage Youth Leadership Programme

  1. Nodal Agency: Ministry of Culture
  2. The scheme CHYLP  aims to enrich awareness of Indian culture and heritage amongst the youth in order to promote, understand and develop fondness for India’s rich cultural heritage, with a view to develop appropriate leadership qualities amongst youth.
  3. The focus of the programme was is on less privileged children residing in backward areas by interacting with them in vernacular languages for their better understanding.
  4. The programme was given to Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), an autonomous organization working under the purview of Ministry of Culture.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

UGC defers decision to grant tag to more Institutes of EminenceGovt. Schemes


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: Institute of Eminence tag

Mains level: Impact of having the tag


  1. The University Grants Commission has deferred its decision on granting the Institute of Eminence tag to more educational institutions.
  2. The expert committee has recommended more than the mandated number that the scheme allowed.


  1. In July, the HRD Ministry hass granted the Institution of Eminence status to three public and three private educational institutions in India after the empowered expert committee recommended 11 names.
  2. The six institutions included the Jio Institute, which is yet to be set up.
  3. In December, the committee recommended 19 more names, taking the total list to 30.
  4. Now the empowered expert committee has recommended 30 names – 15 in each category.

What hinders granting more institutions?

  1. It was not just a question of naming the institutions, but also granting public institutions Rs 1,000 crore in special funds.
  2. The committee had not put its list of names in any preferential order or ranking.

About Institute of Eminence Scheme

[Burning Issue] Institute of Excellence Debate

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] ICAR launches National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP)PIB


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: ICAR, NAHEP, READY Scheme

Mains level: Better governance and management of agricultural education


National Agricultural Higher Education Project

  1. The ICAR has recently launched Rs 1100 crore ambitious National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) to attract talent and strengthen higher agricultural education in the country.
  2. This project will be funded by the World Bank and the Indian Government on a 50:50 basis.
  3. The objective of the NAHEP for India is to support participating agricultural universities and ICAR in providing more relevant and higher quality education to Agricultural University students.
  4. In addition, a four year degree in Agriculture, Horticulture, Fisheries and Forestry has been declared a professional degree.

READY Yojana

  1. In order to promote the participation of students in agricultural business, Student READY (Rural Entrepreneurship Awareness Development Yojana) scheme is being run.
  2. Under this, practical experience of agriculture and entrepreneurship is provided to undergraduate students.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

India ranks 80th on Global Talent Competitive Index 2019IOCR


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: GTCI

Mains level: Not Much


  • Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI) for 2019 was recently released.

About GTCI

  1. Launched for the first time in 2013, the GTCI is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.
  2. It is released by INSEAD business school in partnership with Tata Communications and Adecco Group.
  3. The report measures levels of Global Talent Competitiveness by looking at 68 variables such as ease of ease of hiring, gender earnings gap, and prevalence of training in firms.

India’s Progress

  1. At 80th rank, India moves up one position on the Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI) 2019, according to a report.
  2. According to the report, India’s biggest challenge is to improve its ability to attract and retain talent.
  3. There is a need to address its poor level of Internal Openness in particular with respect to weak gender equality and low tolerances towards minorities and immigrants.
  4. China emerged as the best performer among the BRICS countries, with an overall position of 45th.
  5. However, India performed better than its lower-income peers when it comes to growing talent and access to growth opportunities.

Global Performance

  1. Switzerland followed by Singapore, the US, Norway and Denmark were in the top five on the list.
  2. In the top ten of talent competitiveness ranking, only two non-European countries can be seen: Singapore and the USA.
  3. This underlines that Europe remains a talent powerhouse, but also that countries with great universities and a strong education sector are best at attracting talents.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] Why MCQ isn’t an optionop-ed snap


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: The newscard discusses impact of introducing MCQ based examination is in every domain, in a brief manner.


  • The growing legitimisation of the MCQ (Multiple Choice Question) pattern of exams for all sorts of entrance tests, particularly in the field of liberal arts and social sciences, indicates the poverty of pedagogic imagination that seems to have inflicted a team of techno-managers and academic bureaucrats.


  • The JJNU will be adopting the online MCQ mode for conducting entrance examinations for all its academic programmes, based on the recommendations by a committee formed to study the feasibility of conducting the entrance test online.
  • The JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU), however, raised objections about the online mode for conducting entrance examinations saying that the JNU administration’s decision to convert the present robust system of written examination for BA, MA and MPhil-PhD which is conducted in various centres around the country in physical form into online mode defies any logic and reason.


  1. First, thinking all disciplines, be it English literature or mathematics, on the same scale, love for mindless standardization has been reduced into a set of “objective” postulates, or “puzzles” with only one “correct” answer thereby deteriorating the status of the liberal arts and social sciences. and destroy thinking and creative imagination.
  2. Second, tend to see knowledge as the acquisition of mere “facts”, free from “ideological” aberrations or “subjective” prejudices.
  3. And third, with the hallucination of “mathematical precision”, feeling that creative articulation is dangerous or equivalent to madness because everything has to be fitted into the standardised/dominant formula or theorem.
  4. The idea of having a question to which there is only one correct answer is problematic, Manufacturing one-dimensional consciousness — a mind incapable of living with plurality, ambiguities and unresolved paradoxes.
  5. It has done severe damage to the culture of learning. The fetish of 99 per cent marks in the board exams is killing the creative faculty of schoolchildren. With rote learning, they have mastered the technique of reducing everything into a set of bullet points depending on the marks allotted to a question.
  6. Teachers, too have lost their agency. Even for selecting M.Phil/Ph.D candidates they have been asked to rely on the MCQ pattern of entrance test.
  7. The idea of complete objective examination defeats the comprehensive evaluation policy of the subjective paper which looks into the holistic requirements in student for MA and MPhil-PhD which covers both the knowledge potential and writing skills.
  8. As teachers are not supposed to think or evolve our unique modes of selection and evaluation. Only formulate “objective” questions, and specialise ourselves in generating an MCQ bank.

The case for multiple choice questions

  1. Despite his reservations, there is merit in multiple choice questions for two reasons – they guarantee objectivity in marking, he feels, and when the number of candidates is large, relieves teachers of the responsibility of checking. They have eliminated “the space for bias”.
  2. The responsibility of maintaining the sanctity of the evaluation process in terms of preservation of the answer sheets that undergo a subjective evaluation is also a challenge.
  3. It argued that the reform and outsourcing the conduct of the test to another party, will “minimise man hour losses to the university” and be eco-friendly.

Way Forward

  1. Tests would not reward rote-learning if there were a few short answer questions and the multiple-choice ones were more carefully designed.
  2. It is possible to set good multiple-choice questions if the paper-setters spend a bit more time making them more confusing or indirect.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

No new Engineering Colleges from 2020Priority 1


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: Mohan Reddy Committee Recommendations

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


  • A government committee, headed by IIT-Hyderabad chairman B V R Mohan Reddy has advised the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to stop setting up new colleges from 2020 and review the creation of new capacity every two years after that.

Mohan Reddy Committee Recommendations

  1. The panel in its report has suggested that no additional seats should be approved in traditional engineering areas such as mechanical, electrical, civil and electronics.
  2. It suggested that institutes should be encouraged to convert current capacity in traditional disciplines to emerging new technologies.
  3. This recommendation has been justified on the ground that current capacity utilization in traditional disciplines is just 40% as opposed to 60% seat occupancy in branches such as computer science, aerospace engineering and mechatronics.
  4. The committee has urged the AICTE to introduce UG engineering programmes exclusively for artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics, quantum computing, data sciences, cybersecurity and 3D printing and design.
  5. As for approving additional seats in existing institutions, the committee has suggested that the AICTE should only give approvals based on the capacity utilization of concerned institute.

Why such move?

  1. A study in Dec. 2017 has found there were no takers for 51 per cent of the 15.5 lakh B.E/B.Tech seats in 3,291 engineering colleges in 2016-17.
  2. The investigation found glaring gaps in regulation, including alleged corruption; poor infrastructure, labs and faculty; non-existent linkages with industry; and absence of a technical ecosystem to nurture the classroom.
  3. All this, it found, accounted for low employability of graduates.
  4. A few weeks later, the AICTE had announced its decision to reduce the intake in courses with poor admissions by half from the academic year 2018-19, a move aimed at addressing the mismatch.
  5. Following this, the total number of B.Tech and M.Tech seats this year, across all AICTE-approved institutes, dropped by 1.67 lakh – the sharpest fall in five years and almost double of what was witnessed in 2017-18.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Bhasha Sangam ProgrammePIB


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: Bhasha Sangam

Mains level:  Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat Programme


  • The Department of School Education & Literacy has initiated Bhasha Sangam Programme to provide multilingual exposure to students in Indian Languages

Bhasha Sangam Programme

  1. The Bhasha Sangam is an initiative under the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ which aims to make the students aware about the unique cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity of our country.
  2. In order to celebrate the unique characteristic of our country, Bhasha Sangam provides an opportunity to schools and educational institution to provide multilingual exposure to students in Indian Languages.
  3. The objective is to familiarize every child with simple dialogues in all the 22 languages under Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India.
  4. They will be taking up one language on each working day, to enhance linguistic tolerance and promote national integration.
  5. The initiative has been widely received and accepted by States and UTs in very positive manner and schools are introducing five simple and commonly used sentences as per the convenience of students.

Lingual provisions

  1. Section 29(2)(F) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 states that “medium of instruction shall, as far as practicable, be in child’s mother tongue”.
  2. The National Curriculum Framework (NCF), 2005 emphasises the importance of imparting primary education in the mother tongue of the child.
  3. Since education is in the Concurrent List, States have the liberty to decide the medium of instruction in schools.

Three Language Formula

  1. The NCF also states that the ‘Three Language Formula’ is an attempt to address the challenges and opportunities of the linguistic situation in India.
  2. As per the ‘Three Language Formula’ the first language to be studied, must be the mother tongue or the regional language.
  3. In the case of Hindi speaking States, children learn a language not spoken in their area.
  4. Sanskrit may also be studied as a modern Indian language in addition to these languages.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] IMPRESS scheme launched to promote Social Science Research in the countryPIB


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: IMPRESS, RISE 2022

Mains level:  Facilitating research in India through various mechanisms


Impactful Policy Research in Social Sciences (IMPRESS)

  1. The Government of India, in August 2018, had sanctioned the scheme IMPRESS at a total cost of Rs. 414 Cr for implementation up to 2021.
  2. Under the Scheme, 1500 research projects will be awarded for 2 years to support the social science research in the higher educational institutions and to enable research to guide policy making.
  3. The Indian Council of Social Science and Research (ICSSR) will be the project implementing agency.
  4. The broad objectives of the scheme are:
  • To identify and fund research proposals in social sciences with maximum impact on the governance and society.
  • To focus research on (11) broad thematic areas such as : State and Democracy, Urban transformation, Media, Culture and Society, Employment, Skills and Rural transformation , Governance, Innovation and Public Policy, Growth, etc.
  • To ensure selection of projects through a transparent, competitive process on online mode.
  • To provide opportunity for social science researchers in any institution in the country, including all Universities (Central and State), private institutions with 12(B) status conferred by UGC.
  • ICSSR funded/ recognized research institutes will also be eligible to submit research proposals on the given themes and sub-themes.

Recent developments for Credit Facilitation

  1. The Government has approved Revitalizing Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE), as per which the scope of institutions to be funded through Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) has been enlarged.
  2. These will encompass School Education and Medical Education institutions, apart from Higher Education.
  3. There is an window of financing for school and medical education institutions where the sponsoring Department would undertake to repay the principal and interest to HEFA.
  4. All funds for educational infrastructure in centrally funded educational institutions will henceforth be in the form of ten year loans through HEFA to the institution.
  5. The interest liability of which would be borne by the Government.
  6. The principal repayment would be undertaken by the institutions in part or full depending on their age profile and financial capability.
  7. For new institutions and those which have limited internal fund generating capacity, the entire principal and interest repayment would be undertaken by the Government.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] The need for reforms in the education sectorop-ed snap


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Development Report, World Bank, PISA, OECD

Mains level: Need for reforms in India’s tertiary education sector


World Development Report 2019

  1. The World Development Report (WDR) 2019: The Changing Nature of Work studies was released recently
  2. It talks about how the nature of work is changing as a result of advances in technology today
  3. Technology is changing the skills that employers seek
  4. Workers need to be better at complex problem-solving, teamwork and adaptability

Importance of early childhood care

  1. The demand for certain skills is going up in today’s labour markets
  2. These skills include complex problem-solving and analysis, and social skills such as teamwork and relationship management
  3. Reasoning and self-efficacy are also increasingly important, particularly as they improve adaptability
  4. Building these skills requires strong human capital foundations—and building these foundations is especially important in early childhood development
  5. Most of these traits are learnt by infants up to the age of 5-6
  6. If children miss out during this period in life, it is hard to catch up
  7. These foundations can be established through effective early childhood development programmes and basic education
  8. Investments in nutrition, health and stimulation in the first thousand days of life build stronger brains

State of India’s education sector

  1. As per UNESCO data, India has one of the lowest public expenditure rates on education per student, especially compared to other Asian countries like China
  2. India spends $264 per student per year compared to $1,800 spent by China
  3. The World Bank report on its worldwide survey of public spending on education stated that India spent a meagre 11 percent of public expenditure on education, compared to 20 percent in China
  4. Education in most schools is one dimensional, with an obsessive focus on marks
  5. Added to this is the lack of availability of trained teachers at all levels
  6. Quality teachers are the missing link in the Indian education system
  7. Although pockets of excellence exist, the quality of teaching, especially in government schools, does not meet the standards

Need for education sector reform

  1. India needs to focus even more strongly on the quality of education it offers to its greatest asset—its citizens- its human capital
  2. For most children, skill foundations are formed through primary and secondary education
  3. Yet, the acquisition of foundational skills that one would expect to happen in schools is not occurring

Impact of investments in human capital

  1. Through investments in foundational human capital—India can prepare its people for the coming shifts in jobs, skills and market structures
  2. Lack of investments, instead, will leave future generations—especially the poorest—at a severe disadvantage, amplifying inequalities that already exist
  3. In the worst-case scenario, this might create instability when rising aspirations are met with frustration instead of an opportunity

India’s efforts at building human capital

  1. A lot of investments in human capital have already begun in India and are likely to have a positive impact in the coming years
  2. The shift in the education sector towards more competitive federalism and results-based financing is expected to improve accountability and learning outcomes
  3. India’s agreement to participate in PISA is a major step forward in its policy landscape that will help rank India with global peers based on education outcomes
  4. PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) is a survey conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to test education systems by comparing the test performance of 15-year-old pupils
  5. The two-hour test not only evaluates the cognitive skills of students in science, math, and reading but also assesses their ability to solve problems in new and unfamiliar conditions

Reforms required in the tertiary education sector

  • India’s tertiary education system is the second largest in the world, after China
  • It is home to more than 35 million students and over 50,000 institutions\\
  • The most prestigious institutions within this system have global standing and are responsible for making India a world leader in the high-tech sector

For this success to be taken to the next level, India’s tertiary education system needs three sets of reforms

  1. It requires more flexibility between the general and technical tracks
  2. More focus on building the skills
  3. Ensuring that specific universities become effective innovation clusters

Way forward

  1. Digital technologies are changing the shape of work before our eyes
  2. Emerging markets like India stand to gain—but they need to have the right skills at the ready
  3. Investing in human capital now and over the long term is an investment with profound implications for people’s future prosperity and for national economic growth

With inputs from the article: Why Does India Refuse to Participate in Global Education Rankings?

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Leadership for Academicians Program (LEAP) and Annual Refresher Programme In Teaching (ARPIT)PIB


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: LEAP and ARPIT Programmes

Mains level: Transforming quality of teaching in India


  • Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has launched two new initiatives LEAP and ARPIT.

Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP)

  1. LEAP is a three weeks Flagship leadership development training programme (2 weeks domestic and one week foreign training) for second level academic functionaries in public funded higher education institutions.
  2. The main objective is to prepare second tier academic heads who are potentially likely to assume leadership roles in the future.
  3. The programme would provide senior faculty, with high academic credentials, the required leadership and managerial skills including skills of problem-solving, handling stress, team building work, conflict management.
  4. It will also focus on developing communication skills, understanding and coping with the complexity and challenges of governance in HEIs, financial & general administration.
  5. The implementation of LEAP Programme will be through 15 NIRF top ranked Indian Institutions.
  6. The foreign Universities identified for the training are also within the top 100 in the world global rankings.

Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT)

  1. ARPIT is a major and unique initiative of online professional development of 15 lakh higher education faculty using the MOOCs platform SWAYAM.
  2. For implementing ARPIT, 75 discipline-specific institutions have been identified and notified as National Resource Centres (NRCs) in the first phase.
  3. They are tasked to prepare online training material with focus on latest developments in the discipline, new & emerging trends, pedagogical improvements and methodologies for transacting revised curriculum.
  4. The course is a 40 hour module with 20 hours of video content and 20 hours of non-video content. They are offered in a highly flexible format and can be done at one’s own pace and time.
  5. There are built-in assessment exercises and activities as part of the academic progression in the course.
  6. At the end of the course, there will be a terminal assessment which can be either online or a written examination.
  7. All faculties who have successfully completed the online refresher course will be certified.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

IMPRESS, SPARC schemes research work to begin in January 2019Govt. SchemesPriority 1


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 Schemes

Mains level: Research facilities in India



Union HRD Ministry launched web portals of two schemes — IMPRESS and SPARC — with an aim to build a research ecosystem in educational institutions.


  1. The objective of Impactful Policy Research in Social Sciences (IMPRESS) is to identify and fund research proposals in social sciences with maximum impact on the governance and society.
  2. It will provide an opportunity for social science researchers in any institution in the country which includes all universities (central and state) and also a few private institutions meeting the requirement.
  3. The scheme will focus on broad thematic areas such as state and democracy, urban transformation; media, culture and society; employment, skills and rural transformation; governance; innovation and public policy; macro-trade and economic policy and social media and technology.
  4. Under IMPRESS, 1,500 research projects will be awarded for two years to support social science research in the higher educational institutions.
  5. The Indian Council of Social Science and Research (ICSSR) will be the project implementing agency.
  6. The scheme will be implemented till March, 2021.


Navigate to this page:

[pib] HRD Ministry launches the web portal of the Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC)

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] HRD Ministry launches the web portal of the Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC)Govt. SchemesPIB


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: SPARC Scheme

Mains level: Measures undertaken to improve of Research and Development ecosystem in India


SPARC Portal

  1. The Govt. in August 2018 had sanctioned the SPARC scheme with IIT Kharagpur as the National Coordinating Institute to implement the SPARC programme.
  2. Now the HRD Ministry has launched   the web portal of the Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC).
  3. The SPARC scheme aims at improving the research ecosystem of India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions and the best institutions in the world.
  4. Under this Scheme, 600 joint research proposals will be awarded for 2 years to facilitate strong research collaboration between Indian research groups with the best in class faculty and renowned research groups in the leading universities of the world.
  5. The collaboration will conduct research in areas that are at the cutting edge of science or with direct social relevance to the mankind, specifically India.

Salient Features of SPARC Scheme

  1. This scheme will improve research ecosystem of  India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations/
  2. The Indian institutions will include those from top-100 or category-wise top-100 in NIRF ( including such Private Institutions which are recognized under 12(B) of UGC Act)].
  3. The foreign institutions will be from top-500 overall and top-200 subject-wise institutions listed in QS World University Ranking) from 28 selected nations.
  4. As per the criteria mentioned above, 254 top Indian Institutes and 478 top ranked global Institutes have been already identified.

Thrust Areas of the Research

  1. A set of 5 Thrust Areas has been identified for collaboration under SPARC.
  2. They are Fundamental Research, Emergent Areas of Impact, Convergence, Action-Oriented Research and Innovation-Driven.
  3. Each Thrust Area will have a Section Chair. The role of Section Chair of each Thrust Area is to review shortlist and recommend the potential joint-proposals submitted under SPARC scheme.
  4. The role of a Nodal Institutions will be to help, handhold and coordinate with willing Participating Indian (PI) Institutions to forge alliance with the Institutions of concerned participating foreign country.

Academic Activities under SPARC

SPARC proposes to enable productive academic cooperation by supporting the following critical components that can catalyze impact making research:

  • Visits and long-term stay of top international faculty/researchers in Indian institutions to pursue teaching and research,
  • Visits by Indian students for training and experimentation in premier laboratories worldwide ,
  • Joint development of niche courses, world-class books and monographs, translatable patents, demonstrable technologies or action oriented research outcomes and products ,
  • Publication, Dissemination and Visibility through a high profile annual international conference in India .
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

ICFRE signs two MoUs for Prakriti ProgrammeDOMRPriority 1


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read B2B

Mains level: Imbibing environment conservation and SDG strategies through schooling.



  • The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) under the Environment Ministry, signed two pacts to spread awareness about forests, and environment among the youths of the country.

Prakriti Programme

  1. The ICFRE signed MoUs with Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and with Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) to launch the ‘Prakriti’ programme.
  2. The programme aims to promote awareness about forests and environment, and to stimulate interest among the students of NVS and KVS in maintaining a balanced environment.
  3. It also aims for acquiring skills that reflect care and protection towards forests, environment and society.
  4. Another objective of the programme is to provide a platform to school children to learn practical skills for judicious use of resources.
  5. It seeks to mobilise a cadre of youths for raising a peoples’ movement committed to conserve forests and the environment.

Particulars of the Programme

  1. Signed for a period of 10 years, the pact is expected to make the youth of the country sensitive towards national and global issues of environment and forests and help them become responsible citizens.
  2. Through this collaboration, knowledge will be imparted to students and teachers of NVS and KVS on environment, forests, and environmental services.
  3. They will be provided contemporary knowledge of forestry research by way of lectures and interactive sessions by scientists of ICFRE.
  4. Visits of students and teachers of NVS and KVS schools will also be arranged to the laboratories and field/experiments of ICFRE institutes for hands-on experiences.


Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE)

  1. It is an autonomous agency under the MoEFCC.
  2. Headquartered in Dehradun, its functions are to conduct forestry research; transfer the technologies developed to the states of India and other user agencies; and to impart forestry education.
  3. The council has 9 research institutes and 4 advanced centres to cater to the research needs of different bio-geographical regions.
  4. These are located at Dehradun, Shimla, Ranchi, Jorhat, Jabalpur, Jodhpur, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Allahabad, Chhindwara, Aizawl, Hyderabad and Agartala.
  5. Currently ICFRE is focusing on contemporary issues of national and international importance particularly in the areas of climate change, forest productivity, bio-diversity conservation and skill development.

Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs)

  1. JNVs are fully residential and co-educational schools affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) with classes from VI to XII standard.
  2. They are run by Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, New Delhi, an autonomous organization under the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of HRD.
  3. JNVs are specifically tasked with finding talented children in rural areas of India and providing them with an education equivalent to the best residential school system, without regard to their families’ socio-economic condition.
  4. Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti was established with the primary objective to provide modern quality education to talented children, predominantly from the rural areas, without regard to their family’s socio-economic condition.
  5. JNVs exist all over India, with the exception of Tamil Nadu, where anti Hindi movements were widespread during past times.

Kendriya Vidyalayas

  1. The Kendriya Vidyalayas are a system of central government schools in India that are instituted under the aegis of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
  2. The system came into being in 1963 under the name ‘Central Schools’. Later, the name was changed to Kendriya Vidyalaya.
  3. All the schools are affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
  4. Its objective is to educate children of the Indian Defence Services personnel who are often posted to remote locations.
  5. With the army starting its own Army Public Schools, the service was extended (but not restricted) to all central government employees.
  6. A uniform curriculum is followed by these schools all over India.
  7. By providing a common syllabus and system of education, the KVs are intended to ensure that the children of government employees do not face education disadvantages when their parents are transferred from one location to another.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Revised CBSE Affiliation Bye-lawsDOMRPIB


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: CBSE affiliation rules and bye-laws

Mains level: Assured outcome with the new bye-laws and its impacts on schooling.



  • The Union HRD Ministry has released the new CBSE Affiliation Bye-laws to ensure speed, transparency, hassle-free procedures and ease of doing business with the CBSE.

What are Bye-laws?

  1. CBSE is a national level Board conducting examinations for Classes X and XII.
  2. It affiliates schools across India and abroad upon fulfillment of various conditions as prescribed in its Affiliation Bye Laws.
  3. The Affiliation Byelaws in position were first made in the year 1988 and were last modified in the year 2012.

What’s special with new Bye-laws?

  1. The new byelaws denote a major shift from the highly complex procedures followed earlier, to a simplified system based on preventing duplication of processes.
  2. There is duplication of processes at CBSE and state government level.
  3. For issuing recognition under RTE Act and NOC, the state education administration verifies various certificates to be obtained from local bodies, revenue department, cooperatives department, etc.
  4. The CBSE re-verifies them after applications are received. This is very long drawn process.
  5. Therefore, to prevent this duplication, schools will now be required to submit only two documents at the time of applying for affiliation, instead of 12-14 documents being submitted earlier.
  6. These documents will include a document vetted by the head of district education administration validating all aspects such as building safety, sanitation, land ownership, etc, and a self-affidavit where the school would certify its adherence to fee norms, infrastructure norms, etc.

 Expected benefits

  1. As a result of this major change CBSE shall not revisit any of the aspects vetted by the state during inspection.
  2. The delay due to scrutiny and non-compliance of deficiencies in these documents shall be drastically curtailed.

Other major benefits include:

i. Outcome based Inspection

  1. Inspection of schools will now be outcome-based and more academic and quality oriented, rather than focussing only on school infrastructure.
  2. The inspection will focus on academic excellence and progress of students over time, innovations and quality of pedagogy, capacity of teachers and teacher training etc.
  3. This will not only help the Board and the school to track students’ progress over time, but will also identify areas that would need further efforts.

ii. Provision of mandatory training

  1. The new affiliation bye laws also lay thrust on achieving academic excellence through mandatory teacher training.
  2. Even the Principals and Vice Principals of every school are expected to undergo two days mandatory training on an annual basis.

iii. Focus on Innovation and Conservation

  1. A special category of innovative schools has been added to include specialized schools which will implement innovative ideas in the fields of skill development, sports, arts, sciences, etc.
  2. The byelaws encourage schools to promote environmental conservation through harnessing solar energy, rain water harvesting, greening of campus, recycling and segregation of waste, Swachhata on campus, etc.

IV.  Ensures Transparency in Fee structures

  1. Regarding fee, the provisions include full fee disclosure to be made and no hidden charges to be levied by schools in the garb of fees.
  2. The byelaws clearly state that fee is to be charged as per the regulation of the government and fee revision shall be subject to laws, regulations and directions of the government.

Way Forward

  1. CBSE has 20783 schools affiliated to it in India and 25 other countries, with over 1.9 crore students in these schools, and more than 10 lakh teachers.
  2. The revised bye laws will positively impact the existing and future schools by easing procedures and redirecting their focus towards improving the quality of education.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] Reading between the rankingsop-ed snap


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: Conference on Academic Leadership on Education for Resurgence

Mains level: India’s universities position in global rankings and problems being faced by higher education sector


University rankings 

  1. Two recent developments draw our attention to the state of India’s universities
  2. The first is the release of the annual ranking of the world’s universities by the Times Higher Education (THE)
  3. The other is an announcement by the Prime Minister, which has an even closer bearing on the future of higher education

New institutes make place in rankings

  1. The ranking of India’s universities has some elements that were predictable and others that came as a surprise
  2. The universities placed at the top all have breadth in the range of disciplines offered and have been recognised as centres of knowledge production for decades, if not for centuries
  3. While the Indian Institute of Science topped, as usual, the list of Indian institutions that made it to the global top one thousand, three very new ones improved their ranking considerably
  4. These are IIT Indore, which finished ahead of most of its ‘founding five’ sisters, the JSS University, Mysuru and the Amrita University, Coimbatore

Conference on higher education

  1. The ‘Conference on Academic Leadership on Education for Resurgence’, was jointly organised by University Grants Commission, All India Council for Technical Education and the Indian Council for Social Science Research in Delhi
  2. Delivering the inaugural address, the Prime Minister announced that the government would make available ₹1 lakh crore for infrastructure in higher education by 2022
  3. PM  emphasised the importance of the Indian Institutes of Management Bill of 2017 granting autonomy to the IIMs which also ensures that Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) will no longer dictate their curricula
  4. Somewhat earlier the government had announced a list of ‘institutions of eminence’, the idea underlying which was that they are now free to set their own rules and regulations

Cocerns for India

There are two aspects that need acknowledgement from a survey of the state of higher education in India

  • First, the rankings, though imperfect, suggest that Indian universities are lagging in their research output
  • The migration overseas even at the undergraduate level, suggests that not even the dissemination of knowledge here is considered good enough by Indians

Is money or non availability of resources a problem?

  1. The estimated flow of income overseas due to fees paid to foreign universities is around $2 billion
  2. University teachers are paid well enough
  3. The availability of material is no longer a problem, with highly affordable Indian editions of the best international textbooks

Actual problems

  1. The crucial factor is the absence of the norms internal to the Indian university that enable desirable outcomes with respect to teaching and research
  2. Among these norms would be an expectation of excellence from both teachers and students and the assurance of autonomy to the former
  3. Beneath the mushroom cloud of UGC regulations, governing everything from hours to assessment, there are no norms making for the attainment of excellence or the empowerment of faculty so that they deliver to their highest potential
  4. The autonomy of a teacher is both a value in itself and designed to contribute to the larger goal of excellence in the production and dissemination of knowledge
  5. In India this value receives little recognition and its crystallisation is thwarted, irrespective of the ideological persuasion of the regime governing the university

Way forward

  1. No amount of hand-wringing over India’s place in the world university rankings or pumping resources into infrastructure building can help if the culture is not conducive to creativity
  2. Feeding a repressive culture bodes ill for the future of our universities and, therefore, India’s place in the world of knowledge
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] National Board of ExaminationsPIBPrelims OnlyPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Board of Education

Mains level: Not Much


National Board of Examination

  1. National Board of Examinations (NBE) is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (India).
  2. It was established in 1975 at New Delhi as a Society under Delhi Society registration act, to standardizing postgraduate medical education and examination in India.
  3. The postgraduate degree awarded by the National Board of Examinations is called the Diplomate of National Board (DNB).
  4. The list of recognised qualifications awarded by the Board in various specialties and super-specialties are approved by the Government of India and are included in the First Schedule of Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.
  5. The National Board of Examinations conducts the largest portfolio of examinations in the field of medicine in India and perhaps at a Global level
  6. It provides trained manpower in the form of medical specialists to the country.

Exams conducted by NBE

  1. NBE is credited with conducting maximum and largest number of examinations for Graduate and Post Graduate Doctors.
  2. NBE has been entrusted with task of conducting National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test – Post Graduate (NEET-PG) and NEET-SS which are the only examinations for admission to Broad and Super Specialty Medical courses respectively.
  3. NBE is also a nodal agency for conducting the licensing examination for Indian Citizens who have obtained their MBBS equivalent outside India.
  4. NBE has been providing more than 8000 specialists in modern medicine every year utilizing the existing infrastructure of Private and Government Hospitals.
  5. NBE has pioneered starting of Post Graduate courses in district hospitals of the country.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] Dismantling the public universityop-ed snap


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 Financing Agency (HEFA)

Mains level: Government moves to privatise higher education and how it will affect students from poor background


Debate on privatising higher education

  1. The list of campuses of public-funded higher education institutions where anger is simmering or has flared up is too long
  2. The dissent arises from an attempt to reformulate education as a marketable service that people should have to buy, and from the idea of students pursuing higher education are a drain on public funds

Suppression of dissent

Through a concerted and violent suppression of dissent on various university campuses, the stage is being set to knock down two well-established principles

  1. One, that public funding of higher education is the only way to ensure that students from all kinds of socio-economic background can access it
  2. Second, that if higher education is to be seen as a means of fostering a democratic, equitable society it must be governed through democratic decision-making with the inclusion of all stakeholders in universities

Granting autonomy a way of suppression

  1. The terms such as “autonomy” and “institutions of eminence” are being used as a façade behind which the commercialisation of higher education can take place
  2. The process has already been set in motion when, recently, the MHRD Ministry granted “graded autonomy” to universities across India
  3. Each university in India is formed through an act of the Parliament and is meant to be an autonomous entity. To grant autonomy to institutions that are inherently autonomous is a strange move

How autonomy will hamper research/access to education

  1. In the universities anointed “autonomous” the VCs are essentially getting a free hand to run the university
  2. Lack of public funding would deal a death blow to the research, writing and publication by the faculty
  3. It will also reduce access for students from the marginalised sections of society to higher education
  4. It would also mean that nearly no students from SC/ST/OBC/PH categories will be able to enter the institutions
  5. Nearly all students who do get to pursue higher education will either be from rich families or will have to incur debilitating education loans

Idea of HEFA

  1. The Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) proposes to fund civil and laboratory infrastructure projects in universities through 10-year loans
  2. Access to loans will be regulated by asking universities to escrow their existing funds to HEFA
  3. The universities will have to raise their own funds through fees and research earnings to pay the loans back
  4. Universities will be turned into corporate entities, entangled in a web of real-estate and finance dealings

Knowledge Commission recommendations

  1. The Sam Pitroda-led Knowledge Commission argued unambiguously for increasing government spending on education to 6 percent of GDP
  2. It suggested pegging an actual figure — 1.5 per cent of the GDP exclusively for higher education
  3. The Commission did argue that since even this will not suffice for a “massive expansion of higher education”, sources of financing higher education may be diversified to complement the increase in public expenditure
  4. The argument for enhanced funding from both public and private sources came with carefully-crafted caveats related to the protection of students from deprived sections

Way Forward

  1. The humiliation of teachers and threat of physical attacks must be seen as attempts to break the spirit of those who are resisting and critiquing this cannibalisation of public institutions of higher education
  2. Citizens — teachers, students and parents — must not fail to resist these sweeping changes that will transform the very character of public universities, one that fosters the spirit of academic excellence and upholds the principles of diversity and social justice
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] A higher policy burdenop-ed snap


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: Debate around institutes of eminence


Recent developments in the education sector

  1. Two recent events seem like missteps in India’s efforts to chart a mature and productive path in the realm of higher education
  2. The first of these events is the effort of the government to produce an education policy and the second is its intent to foster “institutions of eminence”

The institution of eminence being created on the line of IITs

  1. At one time, the IITs were created with exactly the same intentions and in a similar manner
  2. But the performance of the IITs has been largely uninspiring
  3. The IITs failed to meet the urgent need of grasping the special aspirations and requirements of an independent India
  4. They failed to invent and innovate to address the country’s needs
  5. Three factors can be blamed for this situation
  • too much government control
  • largely mediocre faculty
  • no programme or activity to connect with India’s challenges and needs so as to inspire students

Other failures of IITs

  1. The IITs and the government neglected to put in place a major virtue of the American system that attracts, recognises and rewards good faculty at the global level
  2. The IITs also failed to recognise that diversity is the key to survival and they could not develop outstanding qualities and features that would distinguish one IIT from another
  3. The entrance examination does not differentiate between any special qualities that would make the abilities required of a civil engineering aspirant stand out and be recognised as different from the abilities needed of an electrical engineering aspirant

What actually is required to nurture such institutions

  1. The smart students of these institutions must be matched by highly inspiring faculty, and by creating programmes of learning that are in tune with societal challenges
  2. These institutions must be given time, freedom and an enlightened leadership to mature

Indian universities also not innovative

  1. Universities are failing at an alarming pace in their responsibility to foster research
  2. Their only major innovation in recent years is the adoption of a semester mode
  3. By this, only the courses they teach have been mechanically split from an annual mode into two halves
  4. Along with this, the restrictive and overbearing policies of government agencies have made true innovation and experimentation near impossible
  5. The choice-based credit system, a mutilated version of an American concept, has forced universities to collectively drop diversity and adopt a largely common curriculum imposed from above, compelling them to sink to abysmal levels
  6. Another mechanism India has not paid attention to is the use of government funding agencies to raise and foster high-quality research
  7. These funding agencies have not nudged research in the universities towards the needs and challenges of the nation, and of society, as much as they could have

Way Forward

  1. A top-down effort to create institutions of eminence in such a selective manner leaves the vast majority of educational institutions struggling and mired in the deathly quicksand of bureaucratic control and mediocrity
  2.  India must chart its own original path rather than replicating American system of higher education
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] An education that is in syncop-ed snap


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: Radhakrishnan Commission Report

Mains level: Status of humanities education in India and need of its integration with STEM courses


Increase in GER

  1. A survey by the All India Survey on Higher Education published in July this year shows that the gross enrolment ratio (GER) was 25.8% in 2017-18, up from 10% in 2004-05
  2. GER is the ratio (expressed as a percentage), of the total enrolment within a country in a specific level of education, regardless of age, to the population in the official age group corresponding to this level of education

GER in higher education

  1. For higher education, the survey calculates the ratio for the age group 18 to 23 years
  2. For India, the Survey gives the corresponding figure as 30%
  3. Though the GER for higher education in India is still less than what it is in developed countries, the growth rate is still quite impressive

Radhakrishnan Commission Report

  1. Just after Independence, a commission comprising educationists from India, the U.K. and the U.S., and chaired by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, was formed
  2. It had to report on Indian University Education and suggest improvements and extensions that may be desirable to suit present and future requirements of the country
  3. Its report filed after its deliberations came to be known as the Radhakrishnan Commission Report (RCR)
  4. Philosophical deliberations in the report that are related to the content of higher education are still relevant today

Recommendations of RCR

  1. The RCR recommended a well-balanced education with ‘general’, ‘liberal’ and ‘occupational’ components
  2. Without all-round general (including liberal) education, one could not be expected to play roles expected of a citizen outside one’s immediate professional sphere
  3. The report advocated that general education and specialised/professional education should proceed together
  4. The study of languages should be given equal importance as one communicated to the outside world only through the medium of language

NAP report

  1. Recently this year, the National Academies Press (NAP) of the U.S. which represents the national academies of sciences, engineering and medicine published the report, “The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree”
  2. The report advocates integrating the teaching of humanities in STEM
  3. As in the NAP’s report, the purpose of higher education is to prepare graduates for work and life, as well as active and engaged citizenship
  4. This can be achieved only through the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies related to the profession they chose to specialise in and also written and oral communication skills, ability to work as a team, ethical decision making, critical thinking, and ability to apply knowledge in real world settings

Need for diversity in education

  1. Problems in a real-life setting are interdisciplinary and require an appreciation of related fields
  2. There are technical advances every day, influencing everyday life in diverse ways
  3. This is also leading to concerns about privacy, technology-driven social and workforce changes, and the evolving need for individuals to retrain themselves to remain in employment
  4. In such a scenario, it is important that professionals study the impact of innovations on society in a holistic manner
  5. Evidence shows that certain educational experiences that integrate the arts and humanities with STEM at the undergraduate level are associated with increased critical thinking abilities, higher order thinking and deeper learning, content mastery, creative problem solving, teamwork and communication skills

Indian scenario

  1. As far as the inclusion of elements of general education in the curriculum for undergraduates is concerned, the situation is mixed
  2. Several engineering, and science education and research institutes have embedded general education programmes at the undergraduate level
  3.  Such programmes are missing in most university-affiliated science colleges
  4. There are institutions that cater to a single stream which precludes the possibility of even an informal interaction between students and faculty with different specialisations

Way Forward

  1. The focus of undergraduate education should be on classical disciplines, with enough credits for general education
  2. It is time to bridge the divide between the two cultures in the education system and evolve a third culture where the two sides understand and appreciate each other
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Union HRD Ministry Inaugurates 4th World Summit on Accreditation (WOSA-2018)PIBPrelims Only


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: WOSA, NBA

Mains level: Enhancing competency of Higher Educational Institutions through best global practices of Accreditation.



  1. Union Minister for HRD has inaugurated 4th World Summit on Accreditation (WOSA-2018) at New Delhi.
  2. Ministry highlighted that we need to cover each and every institution under accreditation but right now the number of accredited institutions is very less.
  3. Only 15% institutions come under accreditation and 85% institutions are still not coming for accreditation.

World Summit on Accreditation (WOSA) 2018

  1. It is a biennial Summit organised by NBA, which provides platform to stakeholders to share their knowledge and information on accreditation.
  2. NBA has already organised three Summits in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
  3. All these Summits were well attended (WOSA 2012 was attended by 800 participants, WOSA 2014 was attended by 850 participants and WOSA 2016 was attended by 800 participants).
  4. Continuing this tradition, NBA is organizing WOSA 2018 with focus on “CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN OUTCOME BASED ACCREDITATION”.
  5. The Summit will facilitate exchange of information on various challenges being faced during the transition between input-output based accreditation to outcome based accreditation.
  6. The discussion and global participation in WOSA 2018 will bring about new ideas and help in establishing new trends of identifying opportunities and challenges in professional and technical education world-wide.

Expected Outcomes

  1. WOSA 2018 is an opportunity for academia and the industry to explore avenues for future partnerships and to create an environment for open dialogue to facilitate mobility of students and professionals world-wide to gain international experience.
  2. The educational institutions will have an opportunity to interact with industry, policy makers and accreditation agencies from the globe and learn about their perspectives.
  3. It will also be a unique chance for the educational institutions to develop and fortify ties with the industry.
  4. Industry would be able to interact with educational institutions and accrediting agencies for exchanging views on their requirements of quality manpower and accreditation parameters.

Why less accredited institutions in India?

  1. It may be for two reasons first some institutions do not want to come under accreditation.
  2. And the second we have some restriction in our own accreditation mechanism.
  3. Hence government wants to increase the strength of NBA and NAAC so that more number of institutions can be accredited.

Importance of Ranking

  1. Ranking and rating increase competitiveness among institutions for better performance.
  2. Under NIRF every institute has constituted an internal committee to improve the ranking. Students also see institutions ranking before taking admission.
  3. The government wants to boost quality education in the country therefore every year it is closing some non-performing institutions.
  4. The Ministry is promoting expansion and autonomy of the institutions and benchmark for the same is quality. It has declared such Institutes of Eminence which are completely autonomous.


National Board of Accreditation (NBA)

  1. The National Board of Accreditation (NBA) is an autonomous organisation under Ministry of Human Resource Development engaged in quality assurance of the programs offered by the professional and technical institutions in India through accreditation.
  2. NBA has been accorded Permanent Signatory Status of Washington Accord since June, 2014.
  3. It has adopted internationally implemented outcome based assessment and accreditation, to ensure that the graduates of the NBA accredited programs is globally competent and relevant.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

India agrees to end PISA boycott, to participate in 2021IOCRPrelims Only


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: PISA, OCED

Mains level: Competency of Indian Education System in the World.



  1. PISA introduced in the year 2000 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) tests the learning levels of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science.
  2. The test is carried out every three years.
  3. India stayed away from PISA in 2012 and 2015 on account of its dismal performance in 2009, when it was placed 72nd among the 74 participating countries.
  4. Having not participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) since 2012, India has now decided to end its boycott of the examination.
  5. The ministry will dispatch a team of officers to Paris this year to negotiate India’s terms of participation in 2021 with OECD.

Why did India boycott PISA?

  1. The decision to boycott PISA was taken by the UPA government, which had blamed “out of context” questions for the poor show in 2009.
  2. The country, subsequently, chose to not participate in the 2012 and 2015 cycle.
  3. As on date, there are 80 countries participating in PISA, including China and Vietnam.

Why Chandigarh?

  1. Chandigarh was selected for three reasons. Foremost is its compact area.
  2. Second, govt. wanted to keep number of languages (in which the test has to be administered) to a minimum. As Chandigarh schools students are taught in Hindi and English.
  3. Third, Chandigarh has a record of performing well in learning assessments.
  4. In addition to schools in Chandigarh, the HRD Ministry is keen that all Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) and Navodaya Vidyalayas (NVs), funded and run by the Centre, also take the test.

Assessment through PISA

  1. PISA is a competency-based test.
  2. The PISA assessments were started in 2000, but India made its debut in the “extended cycle” of the test for 2009 with 16,000 students from 400 schools across Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  3. In 2012, schools of Shanghai in China topped the reading, mathematics and science test, followed closely by Singapore.
  4. In 2015, Singapore, Japan and Estonia were ranked as top three countries, in that order.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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


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.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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


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.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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


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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

NCTE amendment Bill passedDOMR


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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] ‘Study in India’ Programme to make India an educational hub for foreign studentsGovt. SchemesPIBPrelims Only


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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Union Home Minister launches the Student Police Cadet (SPC) ProgrammeGovt. SchemesPIBPrelims Only

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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] A higher abdicationop-ed snap


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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] The fake academiaop-ed snapPriority 1


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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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


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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

HEFA to allot ₹1 lakh crore for educationGovt. SchemesPriority 1


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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] Reforming higher educationop-ed snapPriority 1


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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Centre proposes new body to replace UGCDOMRPriority 1


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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

New norms for college teachersPriority 1


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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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


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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] The Catch In Autonomyop-ed snap


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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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”
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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


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)

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] Eureka Moment For Universitiesop-ed snap


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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

SC withdraws 2013 order on medical entrance testSC Judgements

  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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

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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