Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said that the centre would soon table the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) Bill in the parliament, aimed at setting up a single higher education regulator in the country. However, medical and law colleges will not be brought under the ambit of HECI, he said. In an exclusive interview to news agency PTI, Pradhan underlined the three major roles of the HECI as: Regulation, Accreditation, and Setting Professional Standards. The Education minister further said that funding, which is seen as the fourth vertical, shall not be under the HECI, and the autonomy for funding shall rest with the administrative ministry.
“We will bring the HECI bill in the Parliament soon. After that also there will be standing committee scrutiny but we have started comprehensive work for everything. There are three major verticals. First is the regulatory role, which the UGC (University Grants Commission) does. It has already started a lot of internal reforms at its level,” Dharmendra Pradhan was quoted as saying by PTI.
“Second is accreditation at two levels, accreditation of colleges, and accreditation of programmes and courses. We had set up a committee under Dr Radhakrishnan for revamping the NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council), it has also made recommendations. Third is setting professional standards about what will be taught and how it will be taught,” he added further.
He further elaborated that the single-window regulator shall not be involved in the funding part. “Funding will not go to the single-window (regulator)…the funding autonomy will stay with the administrative ministry like the health ministry, agriculture or our ministry,” the Education Minister said.
He further stated that all colleges except medical and law colleges will be brought under the ambit of the HECI. Notably, proposed in the NEP 2020, the HECI aims to replace the existing AICTE (All India Council For Technical Education), UGC (University Grants Commission), and the NCTE (National Council For Teacher Education). At present, the UGC looks after non-technical higher education, the AICTE keeps a tap on technical education, while the NCTE oversees teachers’ education.
Back in 2018, a draft Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Bill, 2018, which seeks to repeal the UGC Act and provides for setting up of the Higher Education Commission of India, was brought to the public domain for feedback and consultation with various concerned stakeholders.
Efforts to make the HECI a reality began afresh after Dharmendra Pradhan took over the education ministry in July 2021. Stressing on the significance and applicability of the HECI, the NEP 2020 document says: “the regulatory system is in need of a complete overhaul in order to re-energise the higher education sector and enable it to thrive,” reports PTI. It further underlines that the functions of the body, namely: regulation, accreditation, funding, and setting up academic standard shall be performed by distinct, independent, and empowered bodies.
(With inputs from PTI)
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