A bill that aims to create a single regulator
for higher education, replacing the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the
All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), is likely to be introduced
in the winter session of Parliament.
It proposes to bring almost all areas of higher
education – including technical, architectural and legal courses – under the
ambit of a single umbrella body. Medical education, however, will not come
under the proposed Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) according to the
The new version of the legislation has also
removed a controversial proposal to move grant disbursal authority from
autonomous bodies and bring it directly under the control of the Human resource
Development Minister. Instead, a new autonomous body will be created to
supervise the doling out of funds to higher education institutions.
UGC and AICTE are autonomous bodies which over
see the accreditation, regulation and maintenance of teaching, examination and
research standards for universities and technical education institutions across
the country. These academic functions will now be moved to the new HECI, as
proposed in the draft Bill.
The earlier version of the HECI Bill, introduced
in June 2018, had envisaged these responsibilities being handed over to an
advisory board under the HRD Minister.
The HRD Ministry’s five-year strategy plan,
released in June, had recommended that fund disbursal be done by a special
purpose vehicle. “It could be done by an SPV. It could be done by an
independent body under the HECI itself.
Other changes include an increase in the number
of State representatives in the HECI, to counter fears of States losing their
autonomy. The new version also removes the requirement that existing
institutions must take permission from HECI for their current courses.