Sukhdeo Thorat, Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), has urged State governments to raise the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65. The retirement age of teachers in Central universities has been increased following a UGC recommendation. He was speaking at the inauguration of the two-day conference of vice-chancellors of universities in Karnataka here on Thursday. Prof. Thorat also called upon States to give due importance to higher education and increase budgetary allocation for it. This, he maintained, would help increase enrolment ratio in higher education. 'The Union Government, realising the importance of higher education, increased the allocation from INR 8,000 crore during the 10th Plan to INR 45,000 crore in the 11th Plan.'
The enrolment ratio in 20 districts in Karnataka is less than the national average of 11 per cent. Model colleges, which are autonomous, should be set up in these districts to increase the enrolment ratio. 'The UGC will provide 50 per cent of the total cost, while the State Government makes a matching grant,' he said. He also said the UGC had doubled NET scholarships for M.Phil. and Ph.D. candidates to Rs. 3,200. If State Governments also increased the number of scholarships, the dearth of M.Phil. and Ph.D. students could be tackled effectively. Governor and Chancellor Rameshwar Thakur said it was necessary to keep higher education independent and immune from political interference so that the autonomy and academic excellence of universities was preserved at all costs. '”It is with this idea that a role for the Governor of the State to hold the position of Chancellor of universities in the State was envisaged. It is unfortunate that some dilution has occurred in the original role envisaged by them, in recent years. There has also been gradual reduction in standards of administrative and academic systems in universities,' said Thakur.