UGC Chairman Professor Thorat said the move is an attempt to assess and thereafter ensure the quality of education offered in institutions of higher education in the country.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has framed a regulation making it mandatory for all universities and colleges to be certified by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), UGC chairman Professor Sukhdeo Thorat said here on Sunday.

The move is an attempt to assess and thereafter ensure the quality of education offered in institutions of higher education in the country, Professor Thorat said.

Currently, certification from the NAAC, an autonomous body with its headquarters in Bangalore established by the UGC in 1994, is voluntary.

“While there has been progress in the absolute numbers of students with access to higher education since the time of Independence, the enrolment rate of about 11 percent in India is much less than the world average of 23 percent and not much higher than the 7 percent of Africa,” he said.

The problem has been addressed in the 11th Five-year Plan, with the government announcing the creation of 1440 new institutions including seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and seven Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), which he described as the “second wave of higher education in the country.”

The government’s allotment of Rs. 47,000 crore in the 11th plan, instead of the Rs. 400 crore previously has given adequate attention to higher education which was “neglected for the last 40 years,” he added.

Professor Thorat also enumerated vast inequalities in gender, religion, caste and income groups, inconsistencies in quality and the lack of relevance to industry among the problems that ail higher education in the country.

“There is a considerable presence of the private sector in higher education,” said Professor Thorat at a session on ‘Private Participation in Education – Implications for Equity’ organised by the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce.

In 1991, there was only one State Private University, whereas today there are 42. Of the 130 deemed universities, 90 are private universities and 95 percent of all colleges are private colleges, he said adding that in the coming years the numbers were only going to rise.