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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The Hindu Editorial : A Game-Changer For Higher Education

mahendra Guru
The Hindu Editorial : A Game-Changer For Higher Education

Title: A Game-Changer For Higher Education

(The renewed focus on RUSA is welcome, but its litmus test will be in how impartially it is administered)

The Union Cabinet’s decision recently to not only continue with the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) — ‘a Centrally sponsored scheme launched in 2013 to provide strategic funding to eligible State higher educational institutions’ — but also give it due importance augurs (शुभ संकेत) well for the system of higher education in India.

Ground realities

ü  India is estimated to have over 800 universities (over 40,000 colleges are affiliated to them). About 94% of students of higher education study in 369 State universities.
ü  But the Central government’s slant toward premier institutions has continued ever since the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12), where in spite of a nine-fold increase in Budget allocation State institutions have been left to fend for themselves with funding mainly directed towards starting more Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management and Central universities.

Ground realities

ü  Today about 150 Centrally-funded institutions (less than 6% of students study in them) — corner almost the entire funding by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

ü  To make things worse, investment by State governments has been also dwindling each year as higher education is a low-priority area.

ü  RUSA is a process-driven scheme. Its design and conceptualisation were finalised through extensive consultations with all key stakeholders, especially State governments.

ü  Preparatory grants were released to States to have the required systems, processes, and the technical support in place.

ü  Despite being voluntary, all States except a Union Territory (Lakshadweep) are a part of RUSA.

ü  RUSA began with a modest allocation of ₹500 crore, but over time has seen its resource allocation being increased.

Reform as core

ü  State Higher Education Councils (SHECs) which have eminent academics, industrialists and other experts have been created, playing a major role, from an academic and professional point of view, in the formulation of medium- and long-term State perspective plans.

ü  In order to avoid arbitrariness, a State, for example, has to also give its commitment to creating a search-cum-select committee in the selection of vice-chancellors.

Reform as core

ü  Mitigating the bane of the affiliation system is also a major objective. This is achieved through a reduction in the number of colleges affiliated per university by creating cluster universities and promoting autonomous colleges.

ü  An important precondition is the filling up of faculty positions and lifting the ban on recruitment (as in some States).

Visible change

ü  RUSA can prove be a real game changer for higher education in the country. It has not only reprioritised the country’s needs, from funding just a few premier institutions to reaching out to institutions at the bottom of the pyramid, but has also changed the way regulators need to function.

ü  However its litmus test will be in how impartially the scheme is administered by the MHRD and the degree to which State governments allow the SHEC to function.

Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)

Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), launched in 2013 aims at providing strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions.

ü  The central funding (in the ratio of 60:40 for general category States, 90:10 for special category states and 100% for union territories) would be norm based and outcome dependent.

ü  The funding would flow from the central ministry through the state governments/union territories to the State Higher Education Councils before reaching the identified institutions.

ü  The funding to states would be made on the basis of critical appraisal of State Higher Education Plans, which would describe each state’s strategy to address issues of equity, access and excellence in higher education.

Vocabulary words:
  • Impartially (adv) = Neutrally (निष्पक्षता से) 
  • Augur (verb) = Be a sign of (शुभ संकेत)
  • Slant (noun) = Incline (झुकाव)
  • Fend (verb) = Defend oneself (बचाव करना)
  • Dwindle (verb) = Diminish gradually (कम हो चलना)
  • Foist (verb) = Impose an unwelcome person or thing on (थोपना)
  • Modest (adj) = Moderate, small (मामूली)
  • Eminent (adj) = Famous, obvious (प्रख्यात)
  • Arbitrariness (noun) = Autocracy (मनमानी करना)
  • Mitigate (verb) = Reduce (कम करना) 
  • Bane (noun) = Grievance (शाप) 
  • Accreditation (noun) = Recognasibility (मान्यता)

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