NCHER to focus on policy & regulation, not funding

A proposed overarching body in higher education may not look into funding of colleges and universities but purely concentrate on regulating institutions and framing policies for them.

Last Updated: May 11, 2010, 17:33 PM IST

New Delhi: A proposed overarching body in
higher education may not look into funding of colleges and
universities but purely concentrate on regulating institutions
and framing policies for them.

Delinking funding of colleges and universities from
regulating the institutions, a task force on a crucial bill
for setting up of an National Commission for Higher Education
and Research (NCHER) today favoured creation of an independent
funding agency.

Bringing changes to the draft bill on NCHER, the task
force decided that the commission should only concentrate on
regulating the institutions and framing policies for them. It
should not be involved in providing funds to institutions as
specified in the earlier draft bill, official sources said.

The task force, which conducted nationwide
consultations on the issue, today met here to complete the
final drafting of the bill.

The government will hold the meeting of Central
Advisory Board of Education, the highest advisory body on
education matters, on June 18 and 19 to discuss NCHER bill.

The task force members felt that service delivery
should be separated from policy making. The task force
resolved that the funding agency would be created as a
separate entity.

It will prepare annual funding support plan for
colleges and universities and establish norms for block
grants. The funding agency will also set criteria for grants
to support and supplement research in higher education.

The draft bill had entrusted these responsibilities to
the NCHER which would replace the existing regulatory bodies
like University Grants Commission, All India Council of
Technical Education and National Council for Teachers`

The funding agency will function as an
inter-university centre and allocate and release funds to
institutions, the sources said.

The task force has also considered the concerns raised
by certain states, including Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil
Nadu, to a few key clauses which they viewed as violation of
"federal principles".

Among the provisions opposed by these states in the
NCHER bill include the ones like a new university should get
authorisation from NCHER before operation and vice chancellors
should be appointed from a national registry.

The draft bill says NCHER will maintain a national
registry with names of eligible persons for the post of vice
chancellors. In case of vacancy, the NCHER will suggest five
names from the registry for the post.

There will be a collegium which will aid, advise and
make recommendations to the Commission for coordination,
maintenance of standards in and promotion of higher education
and research, the draft bill says.

The collegium shall recommend names of eligible
persons for inclusion in the national registry of prospective
vice chancellors to be maintained by the NCHER.

In view of objections raised by states, the task force
has now said that the condition of appointment from registry
would be mandatory for the central universities.

The state universities will be free to appoint vice
chancellors as per their regulations. But the NCHER collegium
will scrutinise the appointment and give its observations
which may reflect on quality of person selected for the job.

States had also objected to the provision in the draft
bill that the proposed NCHER will specify norms and standards
for grant of authorisation to a new university or a higher
educational institution to commence its academic operations.

States had viewed that this provision would erode
their power to start institutions. But the task force felt the
need of such provision to ensure quality. It did not change
this provision.

The task force members referred to the Supreme Court
judgement in the case of Yashpal & Others verses State of
Chhattisgarh & Others in which the court said the central law
or regulation of an agency created under a central law will be
final and binding on education matters.

The NCHER will enjoy the power of a civil court. The
government wants to finalise the bill and introduce it in
Parliament in the monsoon session.