Central Government plans Joint Degrees with Foreign Varsities for Better Education in India

Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA) is going to replace the other educational bodies like UGC and AICTE in near future. Central government has been planning to bring the qualitative change and is working on an 11-point agenda.

Niti Aayog in association with HRD Ministry has drawn a plan and decided to implement the government’s ‘short-term measures to improve UGC and AICTE regulatory frameworks’.

The new agenda offers joint degrees with foreign institutions, full online courses, more incentives for faculty, using NET to decide on PhD admissions and ending the inspector Raj that AICTE and UGC have been conducting all along.

The following are the details of the higher education recast:

Accreditation Overhaul

It has been agreed to empanel reputed national and international accreditation agencies in addition to India's own National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and the National Board of Accreditation (NBA). The other agencies will be regulated by the UGC and will carry out the accreditation on quality parameters in a transparent and objective manner and then put all reports online. Every institute has to be accredited for five years and autonomy to be linked with the accreditation grade.

Three Levels of Graded Autonomy

On the basis of academic, administrative and financial autonomy, the accreditation will be provided, whether high or low.

Reward the good faculty

To attract the best faculty and build global repute, additional compensation and incentives for a limited proportion of faculty— about 10% of associate professors and professors will be provided.

End Inspector Raj

With an accord to limit UGC inspections and bring in more objectivity and transparency via clearly defined criteria for assessment and display of all inspection reports online, the Central is making considerable changes in the picture.

Online Freedom

While UGC currently does not recognize online programs, it is now agreed the top institutions be permitted to run fully online programs consistent with standards at top 100 universities. Courses without a 'practical' content to be fully online and those that require some practical content be run on hybrid mode.

Expanding Footprint

It has been agreed by the government to allow highly graded universities to open off-shore campuses in area of geo-political importance.

Autonomous colleges

 To ensure better implementation, bring more objectivity in the process of evaluation and permit institutions to design innovative new degree programs, the existing norms by UGC will be replaced. This will also allow these colleges to award a degree under the title of autonomous college with seal of the University and also provide an enabling route for institutions that fail to get a no-objection certificate from a reluctant affiliating university.

The Foreign Element

Academic collaboration to be permitted only with foreign institutions that are in top 500 world rankings such as QS, Shanghai or Times Higher Education. It is now proposed that a joint degree mechanism be explored. Journal check on faculty Instead of existing mechanism of awarding points for quantity of publications (many of which may be in sub standard journals), it is proposed that points be awarded on quality of journals. Awarding of Academic Performance Indicator (API) scores are to be based on objective parameters consistent with global standards of quality.

NET check for PhD

Rattled by quality of PhD admissions, it is proposed that the existing NET exam for the junior research fellowships and lectureship be adjusted for entry to PhD programmes also. This NET screening is to be followed entrance test/interview by institutions.

Two-Term Limit

No more than two terms to be given for the leadership of any institution except in cases of outstanding improvement in an institution's accreditation or rankings during the second term.

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