A blueprint presented to the government on Thursday carries the promise of changing the way higher education is run in the country. If implemented, centralised entrance admissions to all central universities including Delhi University, and uniform semester and credit systems will soon come into force, allowing students easy mobility across institutions.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussed the plan to increase enrolment in higher education institutions from the current 10 per cent to 15 per cent by 2014 with Planning Commission vice-chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia, education secretary RP Aggarwal, University Grants Commission chairperson SK Thorat and Planning Commission member BC Mungerkar.
The presentation made by the officials before the prime minister was a follow-up to the outline he had laid for increasing enrolment in higher education at the Mumbai University on June 22.
The plan has Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as the model. A senior official said, "The common national entrance test for 30 central universities, including 14 new ones to be set up, will be the same as the JNU test, which is well regarded and has been accepted." The semester system will be like JNU’s, allowing a student to take a break for a year or two and return, if they wish.
The presentation recommended increasing the fee for undergraduate courses to Rs 12,000 per annum, with 40 per cent students getting substantial scholarships. The official said, "The fee structure should cover 20 per cent of the cost for running the university."
The official said the JNU governance model of complete autonomy would also be adopted in all universities to check "political interference" in the appointment of vice-chancellors and faculty.