Published On: Mon, Dec 26th, 2011

Academicians and experts welcome NCHER with caution

EduShine Academic Search

The recent decision of Union Cabinet to introduce a bill to set up National Commission of Higher Education and Research (NCHER), a supreme body to oversee and regulate higher education in universities and technical institutions in the country has been seen a catious welcome by academicians and industry-watchers

NCHER as a super regulator will over ride existing higher education regulatory bodies like University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Council for Distance Education (CDE). According to the proposal, NCHER will have 70 members council, with representatives from every state and other higher education regulatory and professional bodies to decide on policy issues. It will also have an 11-member executive committee to implement the decisions of the Council.

“If the NCHER is implemented correctly, it will definitely act as a boon for higher education in the country. As India is approaching the 12th five-year plan, there is need for a holistic body to regulate higher education. It is an attempt at bringing about reforms in higher education,” said H A Ranganath, director, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) to the New Indian Express.

Dismissing fears of centralisation, he added,“We must understand that NCHER is only a recommendatory body. It will not interfere in policy decisions. I was worried about centralisation too. But NCHER’s organisational structure is such that there is no scope for concentration of power.”

One of the many highlights that NCHER proposes is to make the appointment of Vice-Chancellors transparent through a national registry of academicians.

Speaking to Times of India (TOI), Sanjay Govind Dhande,  Director, IIT Kanpur, termed NCHER as a think tank and a holistic approach to higher education regulation to build a better higher education ecosystem. He said , ” The NCHER will result in the integration of higher education which is a pressing need in the country. It tries to define a framework stating the requirements like a semester system, credit based courses, a minimum number of credits required to graduate, etc. However, not every course or university function will be defined by the NCHER. This authority will be akin to a think tank which will direct different units like regulation and quality assurance, controlling malpractices etc, which is a holistic approach, instead of becoming a ‘supercop . In this new paradigm, the funding, regulatory, and academic coordination roles are also well defined. ”

Similarly Rahul Mullick, Partner, PwC India also speaking to TOI said NCHER was the first step towards integration of higher education institutions in the country. He said,” The NCHER being tasked with developing a national curriculum, is a positive step, as the larger goal is setting higher quality standards – an urgent requirement in India today. The NCHER would comprise a strong list of experts with their individual competencies and perspectives ; leading to a consensus driven policy-making exercise, and lesser roadblocks during implementation.  The consolidation of thoughts and ideas will only add value. The industry requires highly skilled manpower, which is in short supply and NCHER should help improve the quality of education and focus on employability rather than just being academic . It is expected to result in greater stakeholder engagement , autonomy, and better research facilities that will all lead to innovation, which is the mantra for qualitative improvement of a nation. What should happen is an optimisation and streamlining in processes like approval and quality, which a single agency will help facilitate and implement faster. “