Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday announced that a draft legislation for setting up the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) would be presented later in the year. According to HRD Ministry officials, the legislation might be introduced in the Winter Session of Parliament. Last year, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) had announced its decision to replace the University Grants Commission (UGC) with the HECI by repealing the UGC Act, 1951. The ministry had placed the draft Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) Act, 2018, slated to replace the UGC, in public domain for feedback and more than one lakh suggestions were received, a ministry official said.
However, it was put on hold for sometime, but now the ministry has placed it on its priority list.
A draft legislation for setting up the HECI would be presented in the year ahead, Ms Sitharaman said, adding that "this will help to comprehensively reform the regulatory system of higher education to promote greater autonomy and focus on better academic outcomes".
According to the HRD Ministry, various departments have been directed to give their feedback on setting up of the HECI and consultations will be held with state governments to seek their feedback on the HECI.
The official said the discussion on the HECI might be on the agenda of the meeting scheduled for August between HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' and various state education ministers.
The Union minister will be holding the meeting with state education ministers to discuss the National Education Policy, which will be finalised after discussions with state governments.
It is quite likely that the meeting might also witness discussions on the HECI.
"The draft has already been prepared and we got over a lakh suggestions from public. We will now seek feedback from various stakeholders and state governments and after their approval, it will be put up in the cabinet. In all likelihood, it will be introduced in the Winter Session of Parliament," the official said.
According to the draft, which was placed in public domain by the ministry to seek feedback from the stakeholders in July last year, the new commission will focus solely on academic matters and monetary grants would be under the purview of the ministry.
The HRD Ministry had said less government and more governance, separation of grant-related functions, end of inspection raj, powers to enforce compliance with academic quality standards and to order closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions, were some of the highlights of the HECI Act, 2018.
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