UGC a failure, must be scrapped says HRD Ministry

New Delhi: One of the first committee set up by HRD minister Smriti Z Irani to review the working of the University Grants Commission has said that the regulator not only has "failed to fulfill its mandate but also has not been able to deal with emerging diverse complexities."

Headed by former UGC chairperson Hari Gautam, the committee has said any "reshaping or restructuring" of UGC "will be a futile" exercise and so will be amending the UGC Act.

Therefore, it has recommended setting up of National Higher Education Authority through an act of Parliament.

It has also prepared a draft of the bill but said that till the time such a body is set up, HRD ministry can bring about many changes through executive order.

For instance, it has suggested a national research aptitude test for admission to Ph.D and doing away with 10 years as professor criteria to become vice-chancellors.

It has also emphasized teaching of yoga and transcendental meditation. Ministry sources said, "Recommendations are far-reaching and will be looked into seriously."

Also read: UGC launches portal to receive and address student complaints

The two-volume report submitted to the ministry says UGC is "plagued in the main by reductionism in its functioning." The report also states, "It (UGC) has side-stepped its function of being a sentinel of excellence in education and embraced the relatively easier function of funding education."

It has specifically pointed out that the UGC staff is unhappy as only "few find favour and are delegated with powers to perform in important areas while many of them are left out with hardly much to contribute."

"It is said that they are pushed around through an element of fear and threat. The overall impression is that there is a man-made crisis which seems to be cause of unhealthy ambience and poor performance of UGC," the report said, adding there should be pay parity with central government employees.

Advising reform from the top, the committee has said that UGC chairperson "should be advised to strictly keep a vigilant track of the various performance areas of the UGC and assess the contribution at all levels."

UGC a failure, must be scrapped says HRD Ministry

It has recommended that chairperson should spend more time in his "seat" than go around the "country and the world on occasions that have not much relevance for the system he governs."

In this regard, the committee has recommended that chairperson be held accountable and "his performance be assessed once after three years and then at the end of his tenure of five years by a committee constituted by HRD."

As for members of the UGC, the committee said "all kinds of people have been appointed" "Eminent educationists or men of eminence in any field should have been the natural choice but at times it is observed that businessmen, hotel owners and even readers in colleges" have been made members.

The report has recommended that members be given more active role and asked to attend review meetings.

Pointing out various ills of functioning of UGC, the report said "working structure of UGC is so ad-hoc that many do not know how many bureaus represent various disciplines and activities are currently existing."

The report has said regional offices of UGC and even Consortium of Educational Communication (CEC) have failed to deliver and are a waste of "good money and manpower."

Source: TOI

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