Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal has promised action within 100 days on the Yash Pal committee’s recommendations of sweeping changes in managing higher education.
Among other things the panel’s report, submitted to the minister on Wednesday, called for the setting up of an umbrella higher education regulator in place of bodies such as the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education and for giving university status to IITs and IIMs.
“The report shows a road map for the future of education in India…I believe the nation will accept it,” Sibal said.
The report said university admissions should be on the basis of performance in a national test — similar to the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) — conducted more than once a year. “Students would be permitted to send their best test score to the university for admission,” the report said.
Yash Pal said the report’s main recommendation was the setting up of a statutory and autonomous National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), which will subsume all the existing 13 regulatory bodies.
The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) had made the same recommendation in 2007. Former human resource minister Arjun Singh had constituted the Yash Pal panel last year after the NKC and a parliamentary standing committee said India’s higher education regulatory mechanism was archaic.
Yash Pal said instead of inspection-based approval (often called ‘licence raj’), the NCHER would adopt a verification and authentication method.
Under this, each institute will make a self-declaration on academic standards, which the commission will verify. “If the self-declaration is found to be false, action will be initiated against the institute,” he said.
The committee said the NCHER’s first job should be to identify India’s best 1,500 colleges for upgradation to universities. “Individual colleges or a cluster of colleges can be given university status,” said Yash Pal.
The report said the job of setting academic standards — currently with the regulatory bodies — should be delegated to universities.
The panel also asked the government to immediately stop granting deemed university status till the proposed commission examined the issue.