NEW DELHI: The Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) — cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday — is not only the first major intervention by the Centre to reform the state higher education system but also a substantial step to partially clip the wings of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Ministry sources said the 2004-05 proposal to amend the UGC Act — complete with renaming the organisation as Higher Education Commission and taking away a major chunk of its grant-giving power — has been revived. After RUSA, UGC would continue to fund around 52 educational institutions, which includes 40 central universities and another 12 deemed universities under the government. UGC would also continue to look after funding research initiatives and conducting of National Eligibility Tests. Its primary function would be to ensure academic standards and accountability. UGC has already been given the Distance Education Council (DEC) and after the Supreme Court order even the work of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is likely to be given to them in the near future. "Several committees over the years have recommended that UGC should focus on maintaining academic standards," a ministry official said.

RUSA, which would entail an expenditure of Rs 98,134 crore over 12th and 13th Plan, will be implemented in a mission mode by a Special Purpose Vehicle and a Technical Support Group. Like the successful Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), funding for RUSA would be shared between the Centre and the states in the ratio of 65:35. For north-east states, J&K and Himachal Pradesh, the Centre and state funding would be in the ratio of 90:10. Over the two plans the Centre's share would be Rs 69,675 crore and that of states Rs 28,459 crore. During the remaining period of 12th Plan, RUSA would have an outlay of Rs 22,855 crore, of which Rs 16,227 crore will be the Central share.

In the 12th Plan under RUSA, 80 new state universities would be created by converting autonomous college/colleges in a cluster. Hundred new colleges, including professional/technical would be set up and 54 existing colleges would be converted into model degree colleges. By the end of 13th Plan it is expected that 278 new universities and 388 colleges would be created, and 266 colleges would be converted to model degree colleges. It would cover 20,000 faculty positions.

However, state governments would have to fulfill a set of conditions before seeking funds from RUSA. One, they would have to create State Higher Education Council (SHEC). Right now only five states have SHEC. Two, states would also to lift the ban on filling faculty positions. Three, have mandatory accreditation and usher in affiliation reforms. Apart from administrative reform like keeping the number of affiliated colleges to a university to 100, state universities would have to introduce semester system, choice-based credit system, bring curriculum development and overall admission procedure in a transparent manner.

Courtesy: Times of India, Oct 04, 2013

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