A parliamentary panel has said the proposed national commission on higher education and research will not be able to get on with its work without the active participation of the State governments. The panel believes the commission should act as a super-regulator, advise and guide regulatory bodies, facilitate their functions and coordinate with them for a comprehensive and integrated growth of higher education.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development, in a report on the Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011, that provides for establishment of a national commission, said it was of the firm view that the proposed bill, in no way, should adversely affect the federal structure of the country and that States should have proper representation and say in the formulation of any policy relating to higher education.

The report, tabled in Parliament on Thursday, said the creation of an over-arching body was also not considered a wise move as it was against the principles of management. Instead of plugging the holes in the domain-specific independent regulatory bodies, an attempt was on to create an over-arching body with many roles that may be unmanageable. Therefore, such a proposal cannot be considered a viable mechanism to deal with the ever increasing categories of higher education as well as mass expansion of the sector in the country.

Further, it said, due importance should be given to regional/local specificities and sensibilities while formulating any policy. From the feedback made available to the committee, it was quite evident that very pertinent apprehensions of States had remained unaddressed. Rightful course would have been if the department (Higher Education) had allayed the apprehensions of States by finding a middle path, where there would have been harmonious decision-making and functioning between the Centre and the States. Lauding the objectives of the proposed legislation, it, however, said there was an air of suspicion and confusion on the creation of an over-arching body by subsuming the tried and tested well-established regulatory bodies like the University Grants Commission, All-India Council of Technical Education and the National Council for Teachers Education.