The University Grants Commission is planning to address the crucial issues of development funding for universities by the State Governments and earmarking of a portion of the Finance Commission’s allocations to the States for higher education to bring about a qualitative improvement and affirmative action in the higher learning sector.
UGC Chairman Sukhadeo Thorat, on a day’s visit here on Thursday, told The Hindu that the UGC had accorded the highest priority to an “inclusive approach” in higher education by releasing a number of post-graduate and post-doctoral scholarships for the under-privileged sections of society and had impressed upon the universities the need to remove imbalances in their annual student intake.
“The UGC is of the firm view that privatisation of education will not help in promoting an equitable distribution of the gains of education. Higher education, which is an instrument for social change, must be broad-based, meaningful and attractive to serve all sections of society,” said Prof. Thorat.
Prof. Thorat attended an interactive session with teachers of Rajasthan University in the presence of Vice-Chancellor Furqan Qamar and inaugurated a national seminar on “Social exclusion in contemporary India” at the Institute of Development Studies besides meeting Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot during his visit here.
In his interaction with the faculty of Rajasthan University, Prof. Thorat said the UGC was sensitising all State Governments for allocating more financial resources to the universities in addition to the salary grants: “The States must realise that the higher education institutions benefit the society at large by promoting a scientific temper and rational behaviour.”
Prof. Thorat affirmed that though the UGC had left it to the universities to diversify their courses and launch inter-disciplinary studies in various streams while maintaining their autonomy, it was concerned over unchecked introduction of self-financing courses.
The universities, faced with a resource crunch, often resort to self-financing courses to generate funds without taking into account the fall-out such as restricted access to higher education, negative impact on excellence and monetary twist to the academic gains. Prof. Thorat felt that new and innovative ways would have to be devised to streamline this system.
The UGC Chairman said the Sixth Pay Commission had for the first time introduced new academic pay scales on UGC recommendation to render teaching as a gainful and attractive career option. “Coupled with the 11th Five Year Plan’s emphasis on inclusive growth, this step is set to bring respectability to the teaching profession,” he added.