Panel proposes legal entity for modern education

A committee has recommended setting up of an umbrella body to devise use of technology and to raise finances for higher education in the state.

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2011, 10:25 AM IST

Mumbai: In view of a daunting task of
balancing varied aspects of modern education and dynamic R&D
environment in Maharashtra, a committee has recommended
setting up of an umbrella body to devise use of technology and
to raise finances for higher education in the state.

A report on new legal structure for governance of
public universities in Maharashtra has recommended creation
of the Maharashtra State Council for Higher Education and
Development (MAHED), an umbrella body to plan, to shape, to
co-ordinate, to supervise, to devise use of technology and to
raise finances for higher education.

A committee headed by Arun Nigavekar, former chairman
of University Grant Commission (UGC), studied in detail the
functioning of ten major public universities that are situated
at Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Amravati,
Jalgaon, Nanded and Solapur.

According to the panel, Maharashtra has a daunting
task of balancing varied aspects of modern education and
dynamic R&D environment.

The Nigvekar Committee has proposed to create an
over-arching policy for the entire higher education sector and
it also needs to have an umbrella organization which would
plan and coordinate its implementation across the state.

Though the state has such an organization in Maharashtra
State Council for Higher Education, it is mostly dormant.

"We are reviving it with a new title Maharashtra State
Commission for Higher Education and Development (MAHED),
recommending it an umbrella role at policy and operative level
to fulfill the expectations of the five major stakeholders
namely the students and the parents, the faculty and the
non-teaching staff, the employers and the society," the report
which was submitted to the state government last week said.

The proposal is to make MAHED a stand-alone,
independent legal entity with appropriate and adequate
autonomy. It would be funded by the state government. It would
be run by academicians, scientists, technocrats, business and
industry experts and financial experts.

MAHED would work as a conduit for funding of the
public universities by Maharashtra government.

The independent body would also decide upon necessity
for expansion and if satisfied grant permissions for the
expansion and creation of colleges and their academic programs
on the recommendations of a particular university.

It would have powers to address the grievances of the
teachers and employees, and also the grievances related to the
admissions and fee structure.

MAHED will be a link between the state and HRD
ministry and various other education decisions making councils
in the field of higher and professional education at the
Centre as well as with the Planning Commission.

The legal entity would be the apex body to plan, work
on the funding policy, create an operative structure for the
education system and monitor growth and the quality of the
education system as a whole, the report said.

Nigavekar Committee also noted that there is a wrong
perception that general graduates are of no consequence in
vibrant economies.

However, public universities still have a major role
to play in the new types of economies. However, today they are
under a cloud of non-performance.

There is also a feeling that the government is slowly
pulling out as regarding providing funds for the public higher
education domain which was reflected in the grant-in-aid that
is provided to institutions of higher education; it just
covers the salary component of the institutional budget.

Among other unhealthy financial discrepancies is one
where the teacher community that has emerged through the
existing triple salary structure in many of the aided general
colleges.

This certainly affects the quality of teaching in
college. Moreover, the government has stopped giving
development grant to colleges in the last few years and it
also falters in giving `fees-grant` for reserved and
economically backward communities in time, the panel observed.

PTI