Higher education in the country is set to get a boost with the HRD ministry finalising plans worth Rs. 80,000 crore inorder to improve access to colleges and universities.
The UPA government has embarked upon an ambitious plan to double the gross enrollment ratio (GER), from present around 17% to 30% by the year 2020. For this, there would be a need of several new universities and colleges across the country.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday told Lok Sabha that 200 new universities and a degree college in each district of India will be opened in the next five years. “We have asked for Rs. 20,000 crore for opening new universities in the 12th plan,” he said.
In addition to new institutions, many of the existing colleges will be upgraded either into universities or autonomous colleges having powers to award degrees.
The budget for revitalising the higher education will be Rs. 80,000 crore, the biggest ever allocation for higher education.
A large amount of this money will be awarded to state governments to improve higher education in rural areas. This, by increasing the Central government share in higher education funding to the states.
As of now, the Centre shares just 35% of the cost of starting a new higher education institution. In the 12th plan (2012-17), Sibal said, the government proposes to increase the Central share to 65% and 90% for the north-eastern states.
This, according to the ministry, will give an incentive to the state governments to submit proposals for starting new higher education institutes. Many state governments have been reluctant to seek funds from the Centre because they had to assure 65% funds to start the project.
The HRD ministry believes that its new national vocational education framework that allows bachelors degree in vocational education streams will help in increasing the gross enrollment ratio. The seven level framework allows enrollment at class IX level with an easy exit and re-entry module.
On school education in the 12 plan, the HRD ministry has set a 100% retention rate at the primary level of school education.
According to school data for the year 2010, the retention rate is about 74% at the primary level. It will mean opening of new schools in rural areas and better access to schools for girls and other socially deprived sections such as scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.