The centrally-sponsored scheme for reforming State higher education system will adopt completely new approach towards funding State varsities

The Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) — a Centrally-sponsored scheme for reforming the State higher education system — approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday will adopt a completely new approach towards funding State universities.

The key principles for RUSA funding will be based on performance, incentivising well performing institutions and decision-making through clearly defined norms. These will help establish and rely upon a management information system to gather essential information from institutions.

A total of 316 State universities and 13,024 colleges will be covered under RUSA and 54 existing colleges would be converted into model degree colleges. Infrastructure grants would be given to 150 universities and 3,500 colleges to upgrade and fill critical gaps in infrastructure especially libraries, and laboratories. The RUSA scheme would also support 5,000 faculty positions.

‘No to private varsities’

“However, no funding will go to private universities or institutions under this scheme,” Minister of State for Human Resource Development (HRD) Shashi Tharoor told reporters here.

In order to be eligible for funding under RUSA, States will have to fulfil certain prerequisites which include creation of a State Higher Education Council, creation of accreditation agencies, preparation of the State perspective plans, commitment of certain stipulated share of funds towards RUSA, academic, sectoral and institutional governance reforms, and filling faculty positions.

Funding through State Higher Education Councils would mean some funding powers of the University Grants Commission would be subsumed. This had been envisaged in an amendment to the UGC Act moved in 2004-05. It had proposed setting up of a separate commission to fund educational institutions and the HRD Ministry is thinking in terms of reviving that amendment Bill.

Eligibility factor

Under the scheme, an initial amount will be provided to the State governments to prepare them for complying with the above requirements. Once eligible for funding under RUSA, the States will receive funds on the basis of achievements and outcomes. The yardstick for deciding the quantum of funds for the States and institutions comprise the norms that reflect the performance in key result areas (access, equity and excellence). The State plans will capture the current position of the States and institutions with respect to these indicators, as well as the targets that need to be achieved. The State Higher Education Council will undertake this process of planning, execution and evaluation, besides other monitoring and capacity building functions.

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