HRD panel terms UGC a failure

Jaitley and SmritiA panel set up by HRD minister Smriti Z Irani to review the working of the University Grants Commission has said that the regulator not only has “failed to fulfill its mandate but has also not been able to deal with emerging diverse complexities and therefore must be scrapped.”

Headed by former UGC chairperson Hari Gautam, it is one of the first committee set up by the HRD Minister.  Any “reshaping or restructuring” of UGC “will be a futile” exercise and so will be amending the UGC Act, the panel said.

The panel now plans to amend the UGC Act and recommends setting up of National Higher Education Authority through an act of Parliament, for which the panel has also prepared a bill draft; but said that till the time such a body is set up, HRD Ministry can bring about many changes through executive order. The suggestions include opting for a national research aptitude test for admission to Ph.D. It also plans to do away with 10 years as professor criteria to become vice-chancellors.

As hailed by Prime Mnister Narendra Modi, panel also suggests adoption of Yoga and transcendental meditation as part of teachers exercise. The two-volume report submitted to the ministry says UGC is “plagued in the main by reductionism in its functioning.” The report also states, “It (UGC) has side-stepped its function of being a sentinel of excellence in education and embraced the relatively easier function of funding education.” It has specifically pointed out that the UGC staff is unhappy as only “few find favour and are delegated with powers to perform in important areas while many of them are left out with hardly much to contribute.” “It is said that they are pushed around through an element of fear and threat. The overall impression is that there is a man-made crisis which seems to be cause of unhealthy ambience and poor performance of UGC,” the report said, adding there should be pay parity with central government employees.

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