New commission to replace UGC will be autonomous: Prakash Javadekar

Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday said the new body to replace the University Grants Commission (UGC) will be autonomous with two separate wings — one for regulatory functions and the other for providing grants to higher education institutions.

“We are not converting the UGC into a bureaucratic body. It will be autonomous. We will only change the name. It has to concentrate on quality of education and maintenance of standards,” Javadekar told the Lok Sabha after members raised the issue.

He was replying to some members who raised apprehensions over the government bringing in the Higher Education Commission of India Bill, 2018 that seeks to repeal the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956.The minister said the UGC was created in 1956, when the country had 20 universities, 500 colleges and around 200,000 students.

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But now there were 900 universities, 40,000 colleges and over 3.5 crore students in the country. The new act proposes to establish the Higher Education Commission ostensibly to improve the quality of higher education in the country and bring it at par with international standards.

K.C. Venugopal of the Congress asked the government if it had sought opinions from stakeholders and the public before bringing in changes. Javadekar said the ministry had received “10,000 reactions” from different people and the government was reviewing them.

Calling the Higher Education Commission Act an “old wine in new bottle”, AIADMK member M. Thambidurai asked: “Why can’t they strengthen the UGC instead of replacing it with a new bill?”