TN opposes Higher Education Bill

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The Tamil Nadu government on Saturday strongly opposed the Centre’s draft Bill on setting up a Higher Education Commission and wanted the existing arrangement with the UGC at the helm to continue.

“The existing institutional arrangement of the University Grants Commission (UGC) with both regulatory and financial powers is functioning well,” Chief Minister K Palaniswami said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said the Tamil Nadu government was of the view that there was no need to disband the UGC and replace it with the Higher Education Commission of India with only regulatory powers.

The UGC has the required capacity for objective evaluation of proposals received and to sanction funds in a transparent manner, he said, adding its financial powers are an additional enabling mechanism for the body to ensure implementation of its recommendations.

In the now proposed draft bill, the financial powers are, however, proposed to be transferred to the Ministry of Human Resources Development or some other body, he said.

Voicing the government’s strong “reservations and apprehensions over the move, Palaniswami said, “our experience of sanction of funds…by various ministries based on merits to Tamil Nadu has not been very positive.”

“If this financial power is taken over by the MHRD, we apprehend that the funding pattern would change from 100 per cent funding to 60:40 ratio between the Government of India and the state government.” For such reasons, the Tamil Nadu government “strongly opposes the draft Bill on Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Act 2018 and request that the present institution of University Grants Commission may kindly be continued.” Palaniswami also requested a positive response to his view from the Centre.

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