Chennai will host a national consultation on the draft Bill on the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) on February 17.

The consultation will be launched in Bangalore on February 15. The next day, it will take place in Thiruvananthapuram, according to M. Anandakrishnan, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur and member of the taskforce that approved the draft Bill.

In Chennai, the consultation will be conducted on the premises of Anna University.

Professor Anandakrishnan says the consultative process will cover all regions to hear views on the draft legislation and address misgivings, if any.

The proposed Commission, comprising a Chairperson and six other Members, will take measures to promote the autonomy of higher educational institutions for free pursuit of knowledge and innovation, facilitating access, inclusion and opportunities to all and providing comprehensive and holistic growth of higher education and research in a competitive global environment, through reforms and renovation.

A Collegium of core and co-opted Fellows has been proposed to aid, advise and make recommendations to the Commission for determination, coordination, maintenance of standards in, and promotion of, higher education and research. It will also recommend to the Commission a vision on the emerging trends in different fields of knowledge.

Discussing different aspects of the draft legislation, the veteran educationist makes its clear that the Bill does not envisage the abolition of powers of Legislative Assemblies of States to enact laws on universities.

Only when approached by the State government concerned or a State university, the proposed Commission will recommend a panel of five names from its National Registry [of persons eligible and qualified for appointment as Vice-Chancellor or head of institution of national importance] for appointment.

As for the scheme of authorisation required for a university or institution to award degree or diploma to begin academic operations, Professor Anandakrishnan says it is nothing new. Any institution, to be called a university, has to conform to certain norms to be laid down by the NCHER. In short, it has to clear the pre-accreditation test.

Feedback

He points out that the idea behind the consultative process is to invite feedback from the stakeholders concerned. Any proposal to improve upon existing provisions of the draft Bill will be considered.