After making way for foreign institutes to collaborate with Indian ones, the University Grants Commission (UGC) is all set to help chart an alternative route to set up ‘world class’ innovation universities in the country. At a recent meeting, the UGC decided to launch a scheme for conferring the tag of “innovation universities” and “innovation centres” to worthy institutes. To be implemented in the 12th plan period, the scheme will fund existing Central and state universities as well as the best of deemed to be universities to upgrade to an innovation university/ centre status, provided they meet certain parameters related to innovative research.
The minutes of the meeting say that government varsities apart, those deemed varsities that were classified as category ‘A’ by the Tandon committee — indicating that they meet all specified criteria — will also be eligible for an innovative university tag. However, no grants or funding will be released to self-financing deemed to be universities. The UGC intends to extend the scheme to colleges. The Universities of Innovation Bill — in the works since 2009 and introduced in the Lok Sabha in May 2012 — aims at establishing varsities that will encourage superlative academic quality and research output. These were to be set up either by the government, private entities or through public private partnerships and offer unmatched academic freedom.
The Bill provides for upgradation of universities/ institutes to the status of innovation universities, provided they meet certain criteria — a suggestion made by the Planning Commission. It promises a flexible framework allowing freedom to appoint a foreign academician as a vice-chancellor, invite a promising student to join as faculty, allow varsities to device their own merit-based admission process, individual quality standards free from UGC, and to keep the varsity out of CAG’s ambit.