The Centre is set to replace the University Grants Commission (UGC) with Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) by repealing the UGC Act, 1951, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Wednesday. The Act will be called the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) Act, 2018 (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act).
According to the media reports, a draft Act for repeal of UGC and setting up Higher Education Commission of India has been prepared. According to the draft of law, the new HECI will focus solely on academic matters while monetary grants would be the purview of the ministry.
Under the new law, HECI will have the powers to enforce academic standards, order the closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions, even levy fines. Currently, UGC releases the names of bogus institutions on its website to warn the public, but cannot take any action against them.
The Act will have powers to revoke authorization to grant degrees in case the standards are not maintained. And in case, an institution disregards HECI’s order on a penalty or closure, the administrators could face criminal prosecution, resulting in a jail sentence up to three years.
According to the HT report, all universities including state-owned ones will have to get authorization from HECI for granting degrees, and also fulfill conditions regarding academic curricula and infrastructure for this. “This will do away with substandard universities which are operating from one or two rooms in some parts of the country,” said R Subrahmanyam, secretary, higher education, HRD ministry. The draft has also made accreditation mandatory for all institutions; those with failing to do so by 2022 face the threat of closure.
The new commission will be tasked with specifying learning outcomes for higher education courses, and prescribe standards of teaching, assessment, and research, according to the draft.