Govt withdraws Higher Education & Research Bill

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HRD minister Smriti Irani has withdrawn the bill from Rajya Sabha which was aimed at creating a separate supreme body in the higher education sector while subsuming existing regulatory bodies like University Grants Commission (UGC), the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE).

The Higher Education and Research Bill was introduced by the UPA government in Rajya Sabha in 2011 by then HRD minister Kapil Sibal but failed to reach an agreement as several parties raised objections to the provisions of the legislation. The bill had sought to establish a National Commission for Higher Education and Research, with the mandate to determine, coordinate, maintain and promote standards of higher education and research other than agricultural education and minimum standards of medical education.

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The withdrawal of The Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011, was cleared by Union Cabinet in September keeping in mind the objections of the Parliamentary Panel to various provisions of the legislation.

Listing their objections in 2011, the Parliamentary Standing Committee in its report stated that the HRD ministry had not consulted state governments while drafting this Bill. It was recommended that state governments should be included in formulation of any policy on higher education. Moreover, it had also opposed the proposal to scrap UGC, AICTE and other regulators. The bill also faced heat for impeding the federal structure of the country as it sought to give all powers to the commission when decisions regarding education are controlled by the state as well as the Centre.

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