Experts on Wednesday criticised HRD Ministry's move to scrap the University Grants Commission (UGC ) and replacing it with the Higher Education Commission for India (HECI) claiming that the government's step will be a major blow for the marginalised students to continue their education.
According to a draft bill, which has been placed in the public domain by the ministry to seek feedback from the stakeholders, the new commission will solely focus on academic matters and monetary grants would be under the purview of the ministry.
Professor Madhu Prasad said that the UGC stood between the government and the ministry and ensured that no institute could arbitrarily hike its fee but with it being scrapped, the universities will be under the direct control of the ministry.
"HECI will have an advisory committee above it and the chairman of the advisory committee will be the HRD minister and whatever he will say will be implemented. Instead of the UGC telling the government what to do, we will have the government telling HECI what to do," she said.
Delhi University professor Ratan Lal said that the government is scared of universities and colleges.
"A political willpower is needed to transform the education system. This is a conspiracy to deprive Dalits and economically weaker strata of higher education. You should empower the existing body," he alleged.
Speakers stressed that the proposed HECI is an act of taking away the autonomy of academic bodies through bureaucratisation of academic governing bodies. They said that with the financial monetary grants being under the purview of the ministry, there would be greater interference in higher educations.
"There should be debate on the HECI in the Monsoon session of the parliament. Only the richest institutes will be benefitted. How will institutes like Vinoba Bhave University and Darbhanga University develop? This is an attempt at privatisation of education," said Shariq Ansar, general secretary of a students' body.