The Union Cabinet has approved a bill to set up National Commission of Higher Education and Research (NCHER), a body to oversee and regulate higher education in universities and technical institutions in the country.
The government first proposed setting up NCHER in two years back on the basis of a report submitted by the Yash Pal committee in 2009. The National Knowledge Commission under Sam Pitroda too had made a recommendation for the same.
The commission in its current form would subsume all existing higher education regulatory bodies including University Grants Commission (UGC) for Universities and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for professional education colleges, associated with the Human Resource Development Ministry.
According to the proposal, NCHER will have 70 members, with representatives from every state and other higher education regulatory bodies, other than those including Medical Council of India regulating medical education in the country.
However, the draft bill has faced criticism from various quarters. The criticism has included concerns like it would undermine the autonomy of the existing regulatory bodies, the bill is a centralisation of powers and control over higher education institutions.
The Health Ministry had also objected to HRD Ministry’s move to bring medical education under the purview of NCHER which led to a seperate bill for setting up National Commission for Human Resources for Health (NCHRH) Bill, 2011, under the ministry of Health to oversee and regulate medical education in the country.
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