Govt to restructure UGC soon, give it more teeth

Hindustan Times, January 12, 2015

The University Grant Commission (UGC) is set to be remodelled and the three-member committee set up to recommend its restructuring has readied a blueprint of the changed structure giving the body more teeth.

This is the second Nehru-era institution, after the Planning Commission, to be restructured by the NDA government.

The new apex regulatory body for higher education is likely to have permanent members and representation from the states, much like Niti Aayog, along with the power to recommend punitive action for the setting up of fake universities.

The restructured body will also have a governing council with members from different educational councils like the All India Council of Technical Education, Medical Council of India and Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

According to sources, all private universities will come under the purview of the new body, which could be called the Higher Education and Research Commission.

“The UGC Act 1956 recommends a fine of a few thousand rupees for setting up a fake university. Today, when fake universities are being set up in hordes, there is a need for tougher action, ideally a jail term,” Sukhdeo Thorat, chairman of the Indian Council of Social Science Research and former chairman of the UGC, told HT.

When the UGC was enacted, there were only 20 universities and 500 colleges in the country with a total enrolment of 0.21 million students. Today, there are about 726 universities and 38,000 colleges with nearly 28 million students enrolled.

The NDA government, in July, set up a three member committee headed by former UGC chairman Hari Gautam to recommend its restructuring.

“There is a realisation that the UGC is not able to do justice to its mandate…UGC’s entire functioning continues to be oriented more towards grant giving rather than regulation and enforcement of minimum standards,” the ministry order said.

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