A 100-day agenda has been rolled out by the Ministry of Human Resource Development with an aim to set up an autonomous overarching authority for higher education and research, making the Class 10 board exam optional, review the functioning of deemed universities, give interest subsidy on education loans taken by poorer students, and public-private partnership in school education, among others. The authority for higher education and research is based on the recommendations of the Yash Pal Committee and the National Knowledge Commission. It will subsume in it agencies like the University Grants Commission (UGC), Medical Council of India (MCI) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
The Yash Pal Committee, in its interim report in March, had asked the government to change its definition of a university to free it from the hands of bureaucracy, make it autonomous and have a single higher education commission as powerful as the Election Commission. The committee had also asked for an immediate stop to the practice of granting deemed university status to a large number of institutions. The proposed apex body, to be called the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), might not necessarily be a part of the ministry. The nature and shape of this body has not been decided, but if it is an independent body, then it will not be a government entity. It will formulate policies for law and medical schools, engineering colleges and technical institutions, among others. Another initiative is to make a law for mandatory assessment and accreditation in higher education through an independent authority, which will regulate the accreditation process by setting strict entry barriers. So, if an institute satisfies the pre-requisites like the experience required to be a university, then it will become a university and not a deemed-to-be-university. Besides, the 100-day agenda also mentions a law to regulate entry and operation of foreign educational providers that will regulate these and let good foreign universities enter India.
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