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Director’s Message – FOREprints (Volume No. 6, Issue No.2) July 2017.

28th August 2017, Director’s Message – FOREprints (Volume No. 6, Issue No.2) July 2017.





The Ministry of HRD, Government of India had announced to scrap UGC and AICTE and replace it with a new body named Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency(HEERA) to regulate both technical and non-technical institutions, but in a recent announcement this has been put on hold. The reform issues behind this, nonetheless, are of critical significance for the higher education in India.


For the past few years, or rather a decade, concerns have been raised in many quarters about the deteriorating quality of higher education, and the associated command and control based regulatory mechanisms in place in India. A 2010 circular of AICTE announcing that admissions, curriculum, fee, etc. will be decided or approved by an authorized government agency only, is a case in point. This circular was challenged in the Supreme Court and institutions have been functioning since then based on reprieve granted by the Supreme Court. Multiple regulatory control by numerous statutory bodies with their labyrinthine mechanisms have challenged all institutions, preventing innovative and creative environment taking root in higher education institutions. To illustrate, the regulators prescribing area in an institution to be used for toilets shows the level and extent of regulation. Such 'deep regulation' reflects a flaw in the entire regulation system.


The reports of various committees and commissions have in the past highlighted the deficiencies of regulatory bodies and pointed out the lack of autonomy and freedom given to the higher education institutions, and made recommendations for their growth and qualitative improvements. However, so far nothing substantive has come out of these reports.


All existing Acts / guidelines of UGC and AICTE need to be thoroughly reviewed in the context of educational requirements of the present global times. Indian universities have had a dismal ranking in the world. The best we have currently is IISc Bangalore at 152 in QS World University Rankings and IIT Delhi next at 185. With huge financial support and almost full autonomy to these government institutions this is the best we have attained in about 60 years of their existence. With pincer like grip of regulators stifling autonomy it can be anybody's guess as to what Indian private institutions can achieve when it comes to global standard. Institutions like Harvard, Stanford, Kellog, Oxford, MIT, etc. earned their status of ͞world class͟ not through government guidelines or regulations but on their own remarkable quality enrichment through the autonomy they enjoyed. It is high time for Indian higher education to find its proper mooring at the global level and to minimize the outflow of lakhs of Indian students in search of good institutions abroad.


If these issues are not handled appropriately then the new regulatory environment, HEERA or whatever, reflecting any lackadaisical reform may become a case of problem being handled getting changed from one hand to only the other hand.


It is time for all those who are involved in drafting the blue print of a reform to revitalize the very thinking of encouraging conducive environment for promoting quality education, emphasizing autonomy and accountability, and fostering creativity and innovation and thereby nudging institutions to move towards world class.


Dr. Jitendra Das

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