Maharashtra has got just 2% of Centre’s higher education grant in past four fiscal years
State ranks 20th when it comes to getting funds from Rashtriya Uchchatar Shikshan Abhiyan; activists say money also spent poorlymumbai Updated: Jan 22, 2018 13:39 IST
Maharashtra may have the highest number of government-aided institutes in the country, but it ranks a poor 20th among all states and union territories when it comes to getting funds from the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shikshan Abhiyan (RUSA), a central government scheme that finances state-run educational institutes.
Of the total Rs2,233 crore released under the scheme in four fiscal years — from 2013-14 to 2016-17— Maharashtra has received Rs39.58 crore, which is a mere 2%, data from the ministry of human resources development (MHRD) shows. At Rs254.95 crore, Uttar Pradesh secured the highest grant in this period.
RUSA was launched in 2013 with an aim of providing strategic funding to eligible higher state-run educational institutions. Funds can be utilised to upgrade existing autonomous colleges to universities, for infrastructure upgrades and to improve faculty, among other initiatives.
The states get funding on the basis of critical appraisal of their strategies to address issues of equity, access and excellence in higher education.
The disproportionately low funds that Maharashtra has received is a result of the government’s freeze on recruitments in higher education institutes, a state government official said, requesting anonymity. “The state finance department’s ban on hiring new teachers remains a major hurdle in the way of attracting more funds for the state,” he said. “The absence of a higher education council in the state is another reason.”
In 2015, the Maharashtra government put a freeze on creating new posts and filling existing posts in an effort to curb its expenditure on government employees. A government resolution, issued in May 2017, announced that this freeze would continue for concerned departments until it takes stock of existing posts and finalises a new administrative framework for the departments.
Despite all this, so far in 2017-18, Maharashtra has already been granted Rs60 crore, much more than the amount it has received in the previous four fiscals, revealed Meeta Rajivlochan, state project director (SPD) for RUSA. “We have got funds for whatever we proposed,” she said, adding that much of the grant is directed towards funding research projects in colleges and universities.
Activists criticise the state’s seeming inability to attract funds and spend them appropriately. “The state did not get enough funds because of inadequate representation from the government,” said Santosh Gangurde, vice-president, Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena (MNVS).
A 2016 report by the SPD blamed two universities — the University of Mumbai (MU) and Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University — for failing to utilise even a single rupee appropriated for them through RUSA. However, Rajivlochan said that now, all state universities have spent their funds and have been allocated a second instalment.
Gangurde said the state also should not have spent money where it did. “There’s been no spending in the tribal belts,” he pointed out. Sanjay Vairal, a former senate member of the MU, also believes that grants have been spent poorly. “MU used the funds it got to renovate some new buildings that are yet to be occupied,” he said.