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HRD Panel suggests UGC to be scrapped

A panel set by the Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) ministry to review the functioning of the University Grants Commission (UGC) has gone on record saying that the regulator not only has “failed to fulfill its mandate”, but also has been ineffective while handling the emerging diverse complexities.

The panel was led by former UGC chairperson Hari Gautam. It further stated any attempt at restructuring or reshaping the UGC is unlikely to bear any fruit, not even if the UGC Act is amended. Therefore, the panel recommended a new National Higher Education Authority that function through an act of Parliament.

The panel also prepared a draft of the bill and stated that till any such body is constitutionally enacted, the HRD ministry can opt for as many changes as it may deem necessary through executive order.

One such important change suggested by the panel is to do away with the mandatory 10-year experience as professor to become vice-chancellors. Another is to introduce a national research aptitude test for admission to Ph.D programs.

According to sources, the HRD ministry is seriously examining the merit of the suggestions.

The report submitted by the panel came in two volumes and it said UGC is “plagued in the main by reductionism in its functioning.” It further stated: “It (UGC) has side-stepped its function of being a sentinel of excellence in education and embraced the relatively easier function of funding education.”

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The report also pointed out how the UGC staff is unhappy because only “few find favour and are delegated with powers to perform in important areas while many of them are left out with hardly much to contribute.”

“It is said that they are pushed around through an element of fear and threat. The overall impression is that there is a man-made crisis which seems to be cause of unhealthy ambience and poor performance of UGC,” the report added.

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