HRD Ministry to setup single higher education regulator

New Delhi: The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is now working on setting up a single higher education regulator with three other bodies housed in it.

The rethink on the earlier proposal for a four-tier regulatory structure came following a nudge by the the prime minister last month.

Under the new setup, the bodies will, however, work as per the recommendations of the Kasturirangan committee, senior officials in the know of the plan.

The HRD ministry will draft a new legislation to set up the single regulator and take it to Parliament once the National Education Policy is granted Cabinet approval.

The Kasturirangan committee — in its 2019 recommendations for the new National Education Policy — proposed a National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) as the key regulator but it also recommended three other separate and independent bodies — a General Education Council (GEC) to set academic standards and define learning outcomes, the National Assessment & Accreditation Council (NAAC) to look at accreditation functions and the Higher Education Grants Council to allocate funds to universities and colleges. The four separate bodies had been recommended to ensure a ‘clear separation of functions to enable adequate focus on each essential role while eliminating conflicts of interest’ through checks and balances. At the review meeting, the PMO had doubts over the feasibility of running four bodies efficiently and whether it may become unwieldy.

The review meeting held on February 19 where several tough questions were raised on the viability of the four-tier higher education regulatory regime.

The proposal is accordingly now being revised keeping in mind the concerns red flagged by the PMO. The HRD ministry’s fresh proposal will now have a single regulator with the other bodies in its purview – to set up academic standards, maintain accreditation of institutes and grant funds. Incidentally, the idea of a single higher education regulator has been around for a while now but has failed to take off.

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