Higher education is back on government's priority, with a string of systemic changes in the pipeline. One of the things planned is the setting up of the state council for higher education, in keeping with requirements under the Rashtriya Uchch Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA).
It may have several acclaimed academicians from outside state. Though the council is still in the conceptualisation stage, top education department sources said the government would try to rope in the services for former President APJ Abul Kalam and founder director of National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, Dr NR Madhava Menon and the likes.
In fact, Bihar had planned a council as per the guidelines laid down in the National Education Policy almost six years ago. It was to be set up soon after the dissolution of Bihar state university service commission and inter-university board, during the tenure of former principal secretary of the then human resource development department, late MM Jha.
However, after his death, the plan was put on the backburner. The state administrative reforms commission had also recommended a unified body for higher education. Now, with RUSA requiring all states to have a council, with a project directorate under the government, it is once again in focus.
Several states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal already have a council. According to department sources, efforts are underway to frame the norms.
"The government may constitute it by an executive order and later bring in legislation. Under RUSA, state councils may be formed through an executive order in the beginning, but within five years they must be converted into statutory bodies by state legislatures," they added.
Sources said, the department would prepare a draft and send it to the cabinet for approval. gHopefully, the process will be completed at the earliest," they added. On Sunday, during the workshop on higher education, principal secretary, department of education, Amarjeet Sinha, spoke about the proposed council, which would have the responsibility of steering RUSA in states.
The council forms the primary block towards building a sound planning and funding mechanism for higher education. The current provisions do not allow UGC to fund state governments or a body created by them, except educational institutions. Many state governments, including Bihar, have advocated the need for greater involvement in the process of monitoring the functioning and performance of state universities and colleges.
In the face of all kinds of allegations about financial irregularities in state universities, which get funds through various government sources, the council could usher in greater control. It is envisaged as an independent and autonomous body.