Higher Education and Research Bill Expected This Year

The Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011 was tabled in the Rajya Sabha the government seeks to establish the National Commission on Higher Education and Research (NCHER) as an overarching regulatory body for university education including professional, medical, vocational and technical education.

The proposal for the establishment of the NCHER has its origin in the Address of the President to Parliament on 4th June, 2009 wherein the Government declared its intent to establish an overarching body in higher education to reform the current regulatory structure, based on the recommendation of the National Knowledge Commission and the Prof Yash Pal Committee. Prof Yash pal Committee recommended the creation of a National Committee of Higher Education and Research (NCHER) to replace the existing regulatory bodies including the University Grants Commission (UGC), the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) and the Distance Education Council (DEC). The other professional bodies in higher education such as Medical Council for India (MCI), Bar Council of India (BCI), etc. were to be divested of their academic functions, which would be restored to the universities.

The National Knowledge Commission had recommended the establishment of an Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE) to oversee all fields of knowledge in higher education including those regulated presently by professional bodies. The recommendations of the Yash Pal Committee and the National Knowledge Commission enacted from a realization that fragmentation of various fields of knowledge in higher education has been detrimental to the growth of interdisciplinary subject.

The proposed National Commission on Higher Education and Research (NCHER) will cover all areas / disciplines of learning and disciplines including general, technical and professional education. Only agricultural education is excluded from its purview since agriculture falls within the State List in 7th Schedule to the Constitution.

The Government had constituted a Task Force to aid and assist it in the establishment of a Commission for Higher Education and Research. The Task Force prepared a draft legislation which has been placed in the public domain for wider consultations. The Task Force has visited various locations in the country to interact and consult prominent academics, education administrators, Vice Chancellors and Education Secretaries of State Governments for suggestions on the draft proposal. The Task Force submitted its report in October 2010 on the basis of which the legislation was redrafted.

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