Driven by the mission of ‘Making India a Global Hub for Higher Education’, the Modi government has come up with some pathbreaking announcements to rejuvenate the higher education system in the country. To modernize the country and its people education, undoubtedly, is the only significant tool.This tool not only can inculcate national and cultural values to liberate people of ignorance and false prejudices, it can also help expand their vision and outlook. Through these policy announcements an attempt is being made to make a paradigm shift in the quality of education and ensure greater access and transparency.
While assuming a catalytic role in promoting the growth and quality of education in India, organisations like Education Promotion Society for India (EPSI) have been making efforts to bring about the much awaited synergy between government and institutional bodies by way of national conferences. During one such EPSI conference held in March in Bangalore recently, HRD Min ister Smriti Zubin Irani had said that institutions that have been assessed with A grade by NAAC for two consecutive periods (10 years) will be eligible for autonomous status, provided the affiliating university has no objection. The minister also hoped that the private sector would bridge the gap offering high quality affordable education especially to women and differently abled students. Urging EPSI to come up with a template to leverage worldwide quality education and excellence in higher education, the minister said that the government will support such initiatives.
EPSI had also organised a national conference on ‘Reforming & Rejuvenating India’s Higher Education: A Forum’, in May in Delhi, wherein the HRD Minister announced a new mobile app and portal to help IIT JEE aspirants with old test papers and academic lectures in 13 languages. The minister had also appealed to private institutions to participate in ‘Unnat Bharat’ programme of the government to adopt at least one government school in their vicinity and facilitate academic and extra curriculum exchange. At the same confer ence was announced the extension of government’s MOOC platform, SWAYAM, which is providing over 500 diploma courses, to the students from eighth standard onwards to help them resume education.
More lately, in what seems like a major fillip to private institutions, the government’s move to ease regulations regarding foreign collaborations for Indian universities is perceived as a bold and visionary step by many. According to the announcement made by the MHRD, Indian institutes would now be able to partner with foreign universities to offer under-graduate and postgraduate programmes and can now approach the University Grants Commission (UGC) directly for permission. The decision will greatly benefit Indian students who are aspiring to study in foreign institutions and provide a formal recognition of the degree.
What has also come as a major shot in the arm for deemed universities as per the recent new regulations announced by the government is the fact that such institutions will henceforth enjoy greater autonomy and academic freedom to set up newcore departments based on collaboration between academic institutions and industry experts in the area of research and industrial collaboration without seeking prior approval from UGC. The total time frame of seven months for experts, UGC and MHRD to process the case of any applicant institution has also put the process of giving approval to educational institutions on fast track. Barely had the euphoria sur rounding the long awaited reforms in UGC with regard to the Deemed to be Universities died down, the government introduced fee waivers for SC/ST physically challenged students and fees remission for economically weaker sections at the National Institute of Technology across the country.
If ensuring quality, cost effective and global education has been the objective of the MHRD, the new government’s all inclusive education policies have undoubtedly infused new life into the country’s education system, and all within a short span, which is exemplary.