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Insights into Issues: Regulation in Higher Education




Insights into Issues: Regulation in Higher Education



Regulation in Higher Education


  1. Post War Development of Education Report (1944) recommended creation of UGC. It was thus formed in 1945 but was shortlived
  2. Post Independence, University Education Commission under Dr S Radhakrishnan recommended creation of UGC. UGC was created in 1953 and granted statutory status in 1956
  3. Mandate of UGC is
    1. Primary
      • Quality maintenance and uniformity in higher education
      • Advise central and state government regarding regulation of university education
    2. Secondary
      • Provide grants to universities
Regulatory Framework of Higher Education in India
Regulatory Framework of Higher Education in India (Source:

Role envisaged for UGC

  1. It’s a statutory body in charge of maintaining quality of higher education in the country
  2. It is expected that UGC will appoint experts to suggest reforms for university education
  3. Attract foreign faculty to enhance teaching levels
  4. Provide grants for institutes

Criticism of UGC’s role

  1. UGC could not maintain quality standards as evidenced in the “massification of education”. In 1956 there were 20 universities, 500 colleges and 2.1 lakh students in the country which has now risen to 726 universities, 38000 colleges and 2.8 cr students. While more no of universities and colleges is desirable in light of growing demand for education, however, the mushrooming of deemed universities and private colleges without adequate infrastructure and research facilities is a major problem. The Draft National Education Policy has also identified the above as a major challenge of the education sector.
  2. Instead of experts in UGC suggesting reforms in higher education, there is a bureaucratization in the functioning of UGC which has resulted in “one size fits all” solutions being provided
  3. There is a stark failure in attracting foreign faculties to Indian Universities
  4. UGC has been accused of biased granting of funds
  5. There is a flawed system of rewarding research. Research is Rewarded based on Academic Performance Index which are based on citations instead of peer review and expert appraisal
  6. Autonomous institutes have often complained that they are not being allowed to function independently
  7. UGC has been involved in several controversies as well
    • With DU – with regards to 4 year undergraduate program. Initially they suggested to scrap it and then suggested a similar program months later
    • With IITs – Asked to give degrees in accordance with UGC standards. IITs refused citing autonomy
    • v/s AICTE – asked IIMs to give post graduate degree in management. IIMs currently award diplomas and not degrees. Institutes that award diplomas come under the functioning of AICTE and not UGC. The government intervened by allowing the UGC to regulate B-schools that award degrees and allowing AICTE to regulate those that award diplomas. There is currently an IIM Bill under consideration that empowers IIM to grant degrees, bringing them under the mandate of UGC

Suggestions of various Reform Committees

  1. 2009 – National Knowledge Commission under Sam Pitroda recommended abolition of UGC and creation of an independent regulatory authority for higher education namely National Higher Education Authority
  2. In 2011, Yash Pal Committee also recommended scrapping UGC and AICTE and restore autonomy to institutes providing higher education
  3. In pursuance of Yash Pal Committee Report, UPA 2 introduced Higher Education and Research Bill. The Bill sought to create an overarching education regulator to replace the Universities Grants Commission and associated councils.  It was withdrawn by current government citing violation of Federal principle as states were not consulted in drafting the Bill
  4. NDA constituted the Hari Gautam Committee which gave the following suggestions
    1. Amend UGC Act as restructuring UGC would be a futile and cumbersome process
    2. Set up National Higher Education Authority as suggested by National Knowledge Commission and scrap UGC
    3. Suggested conducting National Research Aptitude Test to take admissions into PhD programmes
    4. Doing away with system of 10 years experience criteria for VC appointment
    5. Emphasized on yoga and meditation teaching
    6. Most important observation with regards to UGC’s functioning
      • UGC has sidestepped its primary function of being a guardian of educational excellence and focused more on awarding grants which is its secondary function
  5. NITI Ayog chief has also criticized the cookie cutter approach (one size fits all) of UGC in light of dense network of educational institutes in the country and has emphasized on the importance of decentralized regulations for effective management