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Saturday, Aug 17, 2019

Nirmala Sitharaman sets aside ₹400 cr to set up new ‘world-class’ institutions

The Centre on Friday announced a ₹400-crore budget for its ambitious plan to develop “world-class institutions”, an increase from last year’s ₹128-crore allocation, in an indication of its resolve to ensure more Indian varsities make it to the top rungs of global rankings.

budget Updated: Jul 06, 2019 00:08 IST
Amandeep Shukla
Amandeep Shukla
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman
Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

The Centre on Friday announced a ₹400-crore budget for its ambitious plan to develop “world-class institutions”, an increase from last year’s ₹128-crore allocation, in an indication of its resolve to ensure more Indian varsities make it to the top rungs of global rankings.

The establishment of a single regulator for higher education — the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) — which could subsume the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), as well as the setting up of the National Research Foundation (NRF) to boost knowledge creation also found mention in finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s maiden Budget speech.

The minister also mentioned that the slew of measures in the New Education Policy (NEP), which is being formulated, would also be implemented in this financial year.

According to a senior official, the total Budget allocation for the higher education sector is ₹38,317 crore, a 9.4% increase compared to the ₹35,010-crore allocation for the sector in the previous budget. Compared to the actual expenditure of ₹31,916 crore in 2018-19, this is a 20% increase, the official said.

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) have been allocated ₹6,409.95 crore, which is an increase of 12% over the last year. Central universities have been provided with ₹6,864.40 crore, while the UGC has been allocated another ₹4950.66 crore.

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, under which 10,000 villages have been adopted by higher educational Institutions, has got a 32%-increase in budget allocation.

“Study in India” — a programme to encourage more foreign students to study in the country — also got an increased amount of ₹65 crore as compared to ₹50 crore last year.

“Under the programme, 100 top institutions in the country are identified, and allowed to admit 30,000 international students every year, who will get premier education at affordable rates. More than 70,000 students from 190 countries have already applied for admissions for these seats in the current year. Most of these seats would be supernumerary,” the official cited above said.

On the creation of world-class institutions, another official said six institutions — IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, Indian Institute of Science — Bengaluru, BITS Pilani, Manipal Academy of Higher Education and the proposed Jio Institute (in Greenfield category) have been zeroed on for the “Institutes of Eminence” tag.

The ministry may, in the coming days, seek the cabinet’s nod to include 30 institutions, instead of the initially planned 20 for the tag.

Sitharaman, in her speech, said that while there was not a single Indian institution in the top 200 in the world university rankings five years back, there are now three institutions — two IITs and IISc Bangalore — in the top 200.

On the HECI, the human resources development ministry will soon begin consultations with states before bringing in the proposed legislation, an official said.

“The new education policy would bring transformative changes in both school education and higher education, proposes better governance systems, brings greater focus on research and innovation apart from extending benefits under Right to Education up to the high school level,” the second official said.

Significantly, the draft policy also advocates measures such as allowing Indian institutions to set up campuses abroad and allowing top foreign varsities to come to India.

There has been an increase of ₹6,422.88 crore (12.81%) in the allocation for school education and literacy, to ₹56,536.63 crore, with the prominent components being flagship schemes like Samagra Shiksha and Mid-day meals.

“The creation of the NRF to create world-class multidisciplinary institutions with strong research capacities is welcome. It will need more investment and sustainable partnerships, though. We are already participating in the Study in India initiative. The roll-out of the NEP shows that the government is serious about transforming education, with the focus on skill-building — which has to reside within the formal higher education sector — highlighted in the budget will also go a long way in increasing employability and improving livelihoods,” said Dr Rupamanjari Ghosh, vice-chancellor, Shiv Nadar University.

First Published: Jul 06, 2019 00:08 IST

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