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Updated: February 5, 2013 16:23 IST

Out-of-the-box ideas

Aarti Dhar
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The UGC issues guidelines for a new scheme ‘Innovation Universities’ to promote innovative ways of learning, teaching and research

Eligible:Central, State and deemed-to-be universities can be tagged as Innovation Universities. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
Eligible:Central, State and deemed-to-be universities can be tagged as Innovation Universities. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

Even as the Universities for Research and Innovation Bill, 2012, awaits Parliamentary approval, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued guidelines for a new scheme, “Innovation Universities”, with the aim to promote innovative ways of learning, teaching and research.

The scheme is meant to support “bold and big ideas” that require substantial support and flexibility; ideas that usually do not fit into any of the existing patterns of funding and do not, therefore, see the light of the day.

Central universities, State universities and deemed-to-be-universities — classified under Category A by the Tandon Committee — are eligible to be tagged as Innovation Universities. The universities should be NAAC ‘A’ accredited and having at least having 10 years of standing at the time of application.

The Universities for Research and Innovation Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on May 21, 2012, by the then Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal. The Bill seeks to allow the Centre to set up universities for research and innovation through notifications. These universities shall be enabled to emerge as hubs of education, research and innovation. They may also establish campuses in foreign countries.

Under the new scheme, universities can submit proposals on innovative teaching, educational and research programmes for grants from the UGC under the XII Plan.

Both localised and generalised innovations will be recognised and supported. Innovation will include, but will not be limited to, innovative teaching/educational programmes including new types of degrees and courses, evaluation and creation of teaching and learning material.

The Human Resource Development Ministry had earlier planned to create 15 Innovation Universities but then drastically reduced the number and instead decided to grant funds to the existing universities, if found worthy.

The innovative research programme can include inter-disciplinary and cross-border challenges, creation of research facility that may be shared by a number of universities and research institutions; research that connects academic knowledge to ‘traditional’ and ‘practical’ knowledge or innovations that take place outside the academia.

Innovations in admission process and expanding access; innovative ways of improving diversity profile and deepening equity, of involving students in the decision making can form part of organisational innovation.

The proposed scheme is not intended to cover upgradation of the overall infrastructure of the university, creation of new departments and centres in the established disciplines or those covered by existing schemes.

Financial grant will be given under three categories: ‘Innovative Project’ would involve a one-time grant of up to Rs. 25 crore and would typically relate to one or two specific objectives. An ‘Innovative Programme’ would involve a grant from Rs. 25 crore to Rs. 100 crore while ‘Innovation University’ shall be eligible to receive a grant from Rs. 100 crore up to Rs. 300 crore for a period of five years.

A Standing Committee on “Innovation Universities” shall evaluate the proposals submitted by the universities while the Detailed Project Reports would be studied by an Expert Committee. The recommendations would be placed before the UGC for a final decision.

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