The proposed new act for public universities prepared by a 10-member expert committee suggests a plethora of changes to bring about higher education reforms, with special emphasis on formulating a new structure for governance of public universities in the state.
The act proposes to do away with the conventional +3 degree system and replace it with ‘a modular academic structure with flexible approach’.
According to the new act, the university will fix the minimum and maximum duration for completing a degree or programme, and the numbers of hours to be covered for a particular module.
It will be a ‘choice based credit system’ where students will have to earn fixed credits for getting a specific degree. The act also allows students to take modules across universities.
A committee headed by former UGC chairman Arun Nigavekar suggested these changes in the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2011.
The act, which has been submitted to the minister for higher and technical education, Rajesh Tope, will be soon put up in public domain for suggestions and objections, and will replace the existing Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994.
To implement these changes, the act proposes formation of the Maharashtra State Commission for Higher Education and Development along the lines of the National Commission for Higher Education and Research. This umbrella body will serve as a standalone, legal, autonomous entity for policymaking and regulation of the universities.
For funding of colleges and universities, which is largely grant driven now, the committee has suggested a new financial model where the use of intellectual capital and formation of a separate independent corporation for funding.
Apart from this, it also proposed to form separate boards for distance education, lifelong learning, research, and colleges for autonomous courses in regular campuses.