The Higher Education and Research Bill 2011, an important bill related to transformation of higher education and research regulation in institutes of higher learning was introduced by Human Resource Development Minister Sh. Kapil Sibal in Rajyasabha (upper house) on 28 December 2011 (reference 1). The bill is based on the Yashpal Committee report and recommendations.
The Higher education and research committee (The Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education in India) headed by Prof. Yashpal was constituted by union government to evaluate the functioning of higher education bodies (UGC, AICTE and others), status of higher education and research in institutes of higher learning (universities, colleges and other education providing institutes) and to suggest valuable reforms. The committee gave its report in year 2009 after thorough evaluation, discussions and inclusion of views of various online forums (ref 3*). Beside other reforms, the report mainly suggested the formation/constitution of 'National Commission for Higher Education and Research' (NCHER) and merging of UGC, AICTE and others higher education bodies into it (Board related to Health education is out of it, means health education board will not be part of it). There is clear statement in Bill that “Nothing contained in this Act shall prevent the National Board for Health Education constituted under the National Commission for Human Resources for Health Act, 2011 to approve and notify minimum norms and standards of maintenance of academic quality for accreditation and benchmarking of education in recognised health educational institutions imparting approved courses in the discipline of health throughout the period of accreditation.” (ref. 3).
According to Yashpal Committee report, the NCHER would be a central regulatory body with hierarchical structure and different divisions controlling different tasks/areas of operation of all universities and education institutes throughout the India. The commission will thus serve as single window to take care of all functions. The Commission will be independent of all ministries of the Government of India. It will have the autonomy to hire talent at various levels within and outside the government. It will also have the autonomy to define the compensation of the employees. The commission is supposed to be constituted by mainly persons from academia (Please refer to Reference 2 for more details of draft).
While many points of report draft were criticized for different points (like draft is not having democratic character nature as it takes away the power of state governments to appoint vice-chnacellors in state universities); the majority of academia welcomed the draft with expectation to bring about the dramatic change in academic scenario, controlling and regulation of higher education and research in India.
Ultimately, when the Bill becomes an Act (the effective date of Act presumably not later than one year), the Acts of higher institutions i.e. the UGC Act of 1956, the AICTE Act of 1987 and the National Council for Teacher Education Act of 1993 shall stand repealed and thus ultimately these institutions will cease to exist.
In future, the academia seems to see the creation of different bodies as scheduled by the Bill and the result of that to make nation's universities more autonomous, qualitative, research oriented and nationally integrated institutions as Professor Yash Pal has envisioned in his report. The journey to report to bill has reached to upper house and waiting it to be implemented as Act.
This bill was passed by LokSabha on 20 December 2011.
1. http://184.108.40.206/Bullitensessions/sessionno/224/281211.pdf , page 32555, 4(1) . Browse under business heading on http://rajyasabha.nic.in/ .
2. http://indianscience.in/sciforum/index.php?topic=69.0 and main interim draft at http://www.jnu.ac.in/Yash_Pal_Committee.pdf
3. http://www.thehindu.com/education/issues/article2763787.ece A recent report in Hindu paper. and http://www.hindu.com/2009/06/25/stories/2009062559491300.htm (the report submission by committee). (* the second image is copyright of Hindu paper)
4. Also check Mr. Madhava Menon, one of draft member, interview http://www.thehindu.com/education/issues/article2801287.ece
(I got recent update by email by a senior scientist and then compiled the information as this article. Please share, comment and give your feedback).