By Sonali Sourav

September 22, 2020

The archaic institution of University Grant Commission (UGC), is going to be dissolved and be replaced by Higher Education Commission for India (HECI). Before you take sides, you should know these facts and answer the question yourself.

Q. What is UGC?
A. Well, for starters UGC is a statutory body, which determines and maintains the standards of higher education. It also recognises universities and allocates funds to them.

Q. How old is it, and how is being ancient a plus point for UGC?

A. The roots of UGC can be traced back to the 1940’s. The UGC as we know it now came into existence in 1956. You see it has years of experience on its sleeves, thereby making it an institution with a lot of Intel in its area of expertise. The UGC has seen a rapid expansion of universities in the last sixty years. Also it has shown a commendable performance by allocating proper funds, subsidising education and making it available for one and all. In true sense it has promoted, right to education for each and every citizen of democratic India.

Q. What is HECI?

A. According to a draft prepared by MHRD, the proposed HECI would focus solely on academic matters and monetary grants would be the purview of the ministry.

“Less government and more governance, separation of grant functions, end of inspection raj, focus on academic quality, powers to enforce compliance to the academic quality standards and to order the closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions are some of the highlights of the new act,” the draft says.

Now, let me take you on a word by word tour of the above-stated lines from the draft.
The government and governance go hand in hand you can’t use one term and not think about the other subconsciously. These two words are like the words rose and red. When you think about roses you think about the color red, for sure we have varied colors of roses but subconsciously we think red. Similarly, when you say government, you remember that its major task is governance. Thus there is no point in stating less of this or more of that, as they are complementary terms.

Moving on to the next term separation of Grant Functions, let me get this one straight the bodies inspecting the institutions will be different from the bodies allocating funds to them?
Ok, so how is it even justified to have different bodies for doing a task, which is part and partial of each other? The body that inspects a particular institution, shall allocate funds to them because they know the areas wherein the institution lacks the necessary resources, required for its development.

Instead of repealing UGC, the present ruling government could have thought about bringing reforms. UGC knows the ins and outs of the higher education system, thus it is not viable to dissolve it, reforming it seems a better option.
Inspection Raj- So, this term brings light to the fact that, inspection on the part of UGC was faulty.

Ok if it was faulty then why abolish it, reforms and proper check for sure would have fixed it. Then again what guarantee can they provide for HECI not indulging into this so-called Inspection Raj? Greed is a basic human trait that, even the best of us harbor. How can anyone validate that this commission will not redo the same mistakes?
“…. focus on academic quality, powers to enforce compliance to the academic quality standards and to order the closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions” all of this mind my words, I repeat all of these could have been resolved my fellow citizen, just by bringing about the necessary reforms in UGC.

It feels like the government wants to commercialize the whole education process by sabotaging the fund allocation part. YES the HECI is a marvelous step in various ways, but in layman terms, it is UGC plus the reforms minus the fund allocating part.

What is more outrageous is the fact that the new universities being allocated by HECI can’t have distant learning courses, but the old ones already in this field can continue with their distant learning courses. Makes no sense to me again, they are just curbing the right to equal opportunity(in terms of education) for the people from rural and suburban India.

Also at many places unreasonable favor has been given to a Government Deemed University over a Private Deemed University like number/restriction on off-campuses, which are purely academic matters and which should be judged on level grounds.

What is the government trying to propose?

Commercialization, unequal opportunities, unreasonable favours and expensive higher education.
Haven’t we all learned that old is gold and experience makes us wiser. So why are these two points being side lined when it comes to something as crucial and detrimental as higher education.

Two major questions that remains unanswered:
Q. Why can’t the UGC be reformed?
Q. Why have a different funding body, that too under the government, where everything is politicised be it death, rape or birth of a person?

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