PUNE: Colleges, which are not permanently affiliated to the universities but have a better rating by the National assessment and accreditation council (Naac), will soon find it easier to secure vital development funds from theUniversity Grants Commission (UGC).
The Planning Commission's steering committee on higher and technical education (H&TE), for the 12th Five Year Plan (2012 to 2017), has made out a strong case for the UGC to adopt a flexible approach in funding colleges, which have better standings irrespective of the status of their affiliation as temporary or permanent with the concerned university.
As per prevailing norms, the UGC extends grants only to those colleges which fall within the ambit of sections 2 (f) and 12 (b) of the UGC Act, 1956. Section 2 (f) defines a recognised university while section 12 (b) provides that no grants shall be extended to any university unless the latter is inspected and found fit by the UGC for such grants.
The 57-member steering committee on H&TE, headed by plan panel member Narendra Jadhav, was constituted in April this year by the HRD ministry for aiding the formulation of the 12th Five Year Plan. The committee comprises, among others, top scientists, academicians, bureaucrats, industrialists and corporate honchos and administrators.
Educationist Gajanan Ekbote, who heads the Progressive Education Society, and the Symbiosis International University vice-chancellor Bhushan Patwardhan were among the prominent members from the city on the committee.
On October 24, the committee finalised its report, which will now be presented to the Planning Commission and subsequently to the Union cabinet for final approval. The report takes a comprehensive view of the various reforms needed in the H&TE sector in terms of improved governance; quality and standards; expansion, etc.
Patwardhan said, "In all, five working groups were set up under the steering committee, for working out the 12th Plan strategy for H&TE in terms of higher education; technical education; private sector participation in higher education; HRD for science and technology and use of Indian languages in education."
Another seven sub-groups focussed on issues like development of new central institutions; enhancement of gross enrolment ratio (GER), which refers to the percentage of population in the relevant age group of 18 to 24 making it to higher education institutions; strategies for funding state and university colleges; financial aid for students; employability and community engagement, he said.
Citing statistics from the committee's report, Ekbote said, "India's GER is 13.58%, which is far less than the Asian average of 21% and 50% and above in US and European countries. The country's spending on education is 3.58% of the gross domestic product (GDP), which is much less than the 6% spending recommended by the Kothari Commission. Within the 3.58%, barely 0.7% is spent on H&TE and 0.8% on research and development (R&D). The target is to improve this spending to 1.5% on H&TE and 2% on R&D, similarly, to improve the GER to 15% by 2015 and 30% by 2020."
According to Ekbote, the steering committee has made a slew of recommendations based on a S.W.A.T analysis of the current state of H&TE in the country. "Some of these will be part of the Rashtriya Uchch Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA). This includes upgradation of autonomous colleges with 'college with potential for excellence' (CPE) status and Naac 'A' rated institutions as university level institutions; promoting evening universities and evening colleges; introduction of integrated UG/PG programmes; enhancing intake capacity of existing institutions of higher education; developing college cluster universities i.e., a group of 10-odd colleges working as a university; and promoting not-for-profit public private partnership (N-PPP) projects in higher education," he said.