In an attempt to rid the higher education system from conflict of interest and mechanistic approach, the New Education Policy 2020 has laid down the roadmap for transforming the regulatory system of higher education in India.
Secretary of Higher Education Amit Khare on Wednesday announced that the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for the entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education.
The HECI will have four independent verticals – National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) primarily for regulation, General Education Council (GEC) for standard setting, learning outcomes, and a National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF) will be formulated by the GEC.
There will be Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding. It will be entrusted with the disbursement of scholarships and developmental funds for launching new focus areas and expanding quality programme offerings at HEIs across disciplines and fields. Another component will be National Accreditation Council (NAC) for accreditation, which will be ‘meta-accrediting body’.
As per the ministry statement, the “HECI will function through faceless intervention through technology and will have powers to penalise Higher Education Institutes not conforming to norms and standards. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards”.
The National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC), which has to work in a facilitative manner as the reforms progress, will be the first vertical of HECI. Its function will be vast as the common, single point regulator for the higher education sector including teacher education and excluding medical and legal education, thus eliminating the duplication and disjunction of regulatory efforts by the multiple regulatory agencies that exist at the current time.
Proposing a rationalised institutional architecture, “Higher education institutions will be transformed into large, well resourced, vibrant multidisciplinary institutions providing high quality teaching, research, and community engagement. The definition of university will allow a spectrum of institutions that range from research-intensive universities to teaching-intensive Universities and Autonomous degree-granting Colleges,” said the statement from the HRD.
The NEP states, “Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges. Over a period of time, it is envisaged that every college would develop into either an Autonomous degree-granting College, or a constituent college of a university.”