Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yash Pal Committee: "Dissolve AICTE, UGC"

Over at Mint, Pallavi Singh covers some of the recommendations that are likely to make it to the Yash Pal Committee report -- which is only in its draft stage.

First, the Yash Pal Commitee agrees with the National Knowledge Commission on the need to create a single regulator -- termed Higher Education Commission, HEC, while the NKC version was to be called IRAHE, the Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education -- that will replace the current multiplicity of regulators, including UGC and AICTE.

Before I proceed to some of the recommendations, I have to chide the committee for allowing one of its members to hide behind an anonymity cloak and make intemperate statements such as these:

[...] “Not a single university we visited had anything positive to say about the regulator (AICTE), which is steeped in corruption and inefficiency, which has, in turn, spawned illegitimate education institutions,” the member [who sought anonymity] said. “So, there is no point in allowing it to function.”

This sort of anonymous carpet-bombing can be horribly counterproductive. For example, someone in AICTE may come along and say UGC is being let off the hook because of Yash Pal's previous avatar as its Chairman! One can also raise a legitimate question about how the proposed HEC will be different from AICTE in regulating higher ed institutions.

The debate on the future of India's higher education is better served if the people in power offer specific, valid, evidence-based criticism. For example, instead of an allegation of "corruption and inefficiency," it's far better to list the specific deficiencies, and explain how they harm the country's higher ed system. Similarly, if "illegitimate educational institutions" have been spawned, the committee should list the ways in which rules have been flouted.

Leaving this sort of cheap shots aside, let's get to the substantive side of the Committee's recommendations:

The panel, rechristened as committee for rejuvenation of higher education in late 2008, suggests three wings for the proposed HEC: academic, accreditation and grants. The accreditation wing would subsume the powers of National Assessment and Accreditation Council, or NAAC, while the grants wing could continue to function like the UGC, a person with knowledge in the matter said on condition of anonymity.

The proposed accreditation wing is in line with the government’s plans to create a single accreditor for colleges by splitting the regulatory and accreditation roles of AICTE, which oversees the functioning of engineering and business schools. The ministry plans to merge the AICTE’s National Board of Accreditation and the UGC-funded NAAC.

The grants wing would release funds to colleges and universities while the academic wing would implement matters related to development of a “curricular approach to university education”, in which the departments in educational institutions, including the IITs and IIMs, become more interdisciplinary, instead of remaining “watertight compartments”, and broaden their menus to include more subjects and disciplines for research and teaching within a university system, Yash Pal said.

And then, there's this:

The panel has also recommended that institutions of higher learning, including the premier Indian Institutes of Technology, or IITs, and Indian Institutes of Management, or IIMs, broaden their menus to include more subjects and disciplines.

When this proposal was floated as a trial balloon, the IITs reacted badly. Very badly.


  1. Anonymous said...

    i think iits have enough good students, profs and alumini to take care of themselves if need arises for more interdisciplinary courses. the govt/regulators/ rather concentrate on making other universities/colleges/ good enough.
    the other schools need more attention than iits in this respect.

  2. L said...

    Yes! The IITM has a very good MA (economics/development studies/english)program with options for the students to take up minor streams from other departments--- science,management,math departments. Only no music /fine art etc though. ..but this is good enough.

  3. Anonymous said...

    kindly consider my request colleges such as paavi,muthayammal,ksr,vellalar and some more are asking donation and higher fees structure for pg courses in me/ in management quota then what is the function of aicte or other commission so please take this request with atmost care and save the students life