Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has suggested that the University Grants Commission (UGC) should now play the role of a national ‘think-tank’ and organise a professional and purposeful discourse about issues that have a bearing on the sound development of higher education in the country.
“Since 96% of students receiving higher education in the country are in the State higher education system, State universities, in particular, required attention and support to improve the quality of teaching and research. The Rashtriya Uchttar Shiksha Abhiyan will address this concern.” he said at the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of the University Grants Commission on Saturday.
While lauding the rapid expansion of higher education in the establishment of more central universities, IIMs, IITs, NITs, IISERs, IIITs he emphasised on the need to make higher education more inclusive.
He encouraged skill development so that trained work-force meets the needs of the growing economy and opportunities for employment are created.
“There is a need not only to continue the focus on the three Es of Expansion, Equity and Excellence but also add a fourth E of Employability,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, HRD minister Pallam Raju said that issues and challenges in relation to access and expansion, equity and inclusion, quality and excellence will remain perpetual concerns in higher education and the UGC should focus on these challenges with increased vigour. He hoped that the national target to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio to 30% will be achieved by the 2020.
UGC Chairman Prof Ved Prakash said that the quantum of public funding for higher education has seen an explosion in the volume of both students and institutions. He cited investment of about Rs. 7,461 crore for the nurturance of social equity and excellence of higher education benefitting about 23 million students.