Establishment work for Merging UGC, AICTE & NCTE Under Proposed Higher Education Commission Begins

The University Grants Commission Act, 1956, is being repealed by the Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Bill, 2018, in order to replace it with a single “overarching, umbrella body” that would include both UGC and AICTE.

The ground for merging the three regulatory bodies – University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), and National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE)- under the proposed Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) is underway, even though there is no clarity yet on whether the bill will be tabled in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament, News18 has learned.

The UGC, which is currently the apex regulatory body on higher (non-technical), is at the helm of the merger, planning the reorganizing of staff based on the functionalities of the four verticals, as proposed in the draft HECI bill and the commonness of activities within the three bodies.

The higher education regulator submitted a report on the integration of the three bodies as part of HECI to the union Ministry of Education (MoE) last week, News18 has learned.

“The draft is ready. We are doing our internal groundwork on how to place the staff of the three regulatory bodies in line with the four verticals. We have already submitted a report on the integration to the ministry,” said a top official privy to the development.

The proposed HECI bill underlines four verticals – National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC), National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) for accreditation, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding, and General Education Council (GEC) for setting academic standards. Each of these councils is proposed to function independently.

The exercise includes reorganizing human resources as well as assets, which includes the existing buildings from where the three bodies operate currently and other facilities that are in use, the official said.

“The staff needs to be oriented to the functioning of HECI and there has to reorganization of expertise across the three bodies. While the existing buildings will continue to be used, a plot area of about 20 acres of land has already been identified near the AICTE headquarters for the proposed commission to come up eventually,” the official added.

However, it is still not known if the bill, which has been expected to come up for discussion since the last Winter Session of Parliament, will be tabled in the upcoming session.

The Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Bill, 2018, seeks to repeal the UGC Act, 1956, to set up one “overarching, umbrella body” body in its place subsuming UGC and AICTE. The bill that was drafted in 2018 met widespread criticism from the opposition and has since been reworked. It aims to separate the academic and funding roles of the existing UGC.

Also, once HECI is established, it will merge the three different accreditation and ranking bodies at present- National Board of Accreditation (NBA), the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), and the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)- under the single vertical.

The HECI bill is one of the key reforms in higher education under Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government. It is in line with the new National Educational Policy (NEP), 2020, which envisages restructuring of higher education to make it more multidisciplinary and job-oriented.

(Source: News18)

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