Leading educationists in Tamil Nadu have come out against the Centre’s move to replace the United Grants Commission (UGC) by a higher education commission on the ground that it will take away the autonomy of the States and the universities.
They have said the proposed draft Higher Education Commission of India (repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Act of 2018, circulated by the Union Human Resources Development Ministry, will create an overarching central authority and lead to control of higher education by officials.
According to M Anandakrishnan, former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University and former Chairman of IIT, Kanpur, the Centre will take away the powers of States. The proposed Higher Education Funding Agency will only lend loans to universities and not grants as UGC does now.
Another Vice-Chancellor V Vasantha Devi has said the taking over the powers of States the Centre will amount to bringing education from the Concurrent to Central list”. The Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI), which represents private educational institutions has also opposed the move to scrap the UGC.
President of the EPSI and pro-Chancellor of Vellore University of Technology G Viswanathan has said “the Centre should wait till August when the Kasturirangan committee is expected to release the new education policy.
Referring to the aim of the draft act to curtail the powers of the regulators, Viswanathan has said there are 13 bodies regulating higher education. By seeking to replace only the UGC, the bill shows a piecemeal approach to educational reforms, he has contended.
Viswanathan has said the draft bill has incorporated penal provisions like imprisonment from the “Prohibition of Unfair Practices Bill” which was introduced during the UPA rule in 2010 but not passed due to opposition from political parties.
He said the Centre has circulated the draft bill without consulting States. If it introduces the bill in Parliament, it should be referred to a select committee so that the views of all stake holders can be got.