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Draft bill almost ready, single higher education regulator could become a reality this year

UGC Chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar says Higher Education Council of India draft bill will be discussed with stakeholders for their feedback.

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New Delhi: The Higher Education Council of India (HECI), envisaged as a single higher education regulator that replaces the existing three, could become a reality this year.

This HECI looks to replace the University Grants Commission (UGC), the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE). 

While the UGC oversees non-technical higher education, AICTE oversees technical education and the NCTE is the regulatory body for teachers’ education.

Sources in the government have told ThePrint that the UGC is set to finalise the draft bill for formation of HECI, which could then be tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament, set to begin on 18 July.

Confirming the development, UGC Chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar told ThePrint: “We are working on the HECI draft bill. But more importantly it will be discussed with the stakeholders for their feedback to design the structure of HECI.”

Details of the draft bill were also discussed at the three-day education conference organised by the Ministry of Education in Varanasi last week where educationists from across the country were present.

Four verticals

A source in the UGC told ThePrint that HECI will encompass four verticals — National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation of all higher education institutions (both technical and non-technical), National Accreditation Council (NAC) as a single point for accreditation of institutions, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) to oversee disbursement of grants to institutions, and a General Education Council (GEC) to frame learning outcomes expected from higher education institutions.

The HECI is the key regulator envisaged under the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The idea of HECI, however, has been discussed before in the form of a draft bill.

First introduced in 2018 as the ‘Higher Education Council of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Bill’, the HECI draft bill could not be finalised at the time. Renewed efforts to make the HECI a reality were then initiated under Dharmendra Pradhan, who took over as Union Education Minister in July 2021.

Underlining the relevance of a single higher education regulator, the NEP 2020 document says, “The regulatory system is in need of a complete overhaul in order to re-energise the higher education sector and enable it to thrive.”

It further adds that the new system should ensure that the distinct functions of regulation, accreditation, funding, and academic standard setting are performed by distinct, independent, and empowered bodies.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: UGC wants universities to offer up to 40% of courses online. Professors don’t see the point


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