UGC stares at funds crunch as govt doesn’t budget for its costs

  • Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 24, 2015 00:01 IST

Fears of a fund crunch loom ahead of higher education with the University Grants Commission (UGC) staring at a resource shortage that may hit some of its schemes.

The UGC — the agency that gives funds to and monitors standards in higher educational institutions — has hiked fellowship amounts by 55% since December, 2014.

However, the allocations made by the government for it in the 2015-16 financial year have not factored in the increased cost of fellowships, sources in the UGC claim. “About Rs. 1,100-crore will be spent on scholarships alone,” said an official who did not want to be named.

The higher education regulator has 16 scholarship schemes under which financial assistance is offered to 80,000 awardees. Payments are now made on direct benefits’ transfer basis into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.

The scholarship component — with 16 different scholarships — is just one of the 65 schemes the UGC runs.

The Union budget 2015-16 document shows the allocation for the UGC under Plan Expenditure head as Rs. 3,520-crore. The UGC however believes that Rs. 6,000-crore would be required to do justice to its schemes.

“With just one scheme eating up a large part of the budget, there is an impending crunch. Other ongoing schemes may be affected,” an official said.

The UGC is paying the following sums per month to awardees of some key fellowships after the hike last December: Rs. 31,000 (hiked from Rs. 20,000) for emeritus fellowship, Rs. 25,000 for junior research fellowship (up from Rs. 16,000), and Rs. 28,000 for senior research fellowship (up from Rs. 18,000).

This hike has meant a potential resource crunch for a number of its other key schemes.

This hike has meant a potential resource crunch for a number of its other key schemes.

The remaining 64 schemes include Special Assistance Programme for institutions of higher learning, enhanced funding to Universities with Potential for Excellence, extra funds for departments that are chosen as Centres with Potential for Excellence in Particular Areas, Coaching Scheme for SCs, STs, OBC and Minorities, etc.

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