The ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD) ministry has proposed an amendment in the Constitution to ensure complete autonomy to the proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER). Once the constitutional amendment is made, “governments can come and go, but the regulator will remain free” from political, ideological and bureaucratic interference. So far, no regulator in any field has been set up through a constitutional amendment. After the amendment, a mandatory Bill will be brought in Parliament.
The ministry is hopeful that the Constitutional amendment Bill will be ready in time for the winter session of Parliament. HRD Ministry officials believe that real autonomy will win the confidence of foreign universities, which want to make an entry in India. It could also give the institution heads power to make effective decisions for the benefit of their institutes.
The NCHER is constituted on the basis of recommendations of Professor Yash Pal Committee report, which in Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal’s words, “is a road map for the future of education in the country”. The 43-page report submitted to the HRD Ministry, suggested steps to renovate and rejuvenate higher education in the country, and recommended that the NCHER would subsume as many as 13 existing professional councils and regulatory agencies, including the University Grants Commission, the Medical Council of India and the All India Council for Technical Education.
Knowledge Commission Chairman Sam Pitroda, has also stressed the importance of a single regulatory body to decide matters pertaining to higher education.“I think in higher education what we really need is now some kind of a higher education commission, council, regulatory authority to create level playing field,” he said.
A multi-member task force is expected to be appointed by the Planning Commission soon to finalise the structure and scope of the proposed NCHER, based on the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission and Yash Pal Committee report. The NCHER is expected to be operational in about two years.
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