Financial approval has come through from the finance ministry for Indias grandest education scheme till date. Rs.25,000 crore have been allotted to the Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan program. The financial aspects were cleared out after the human resource development (HRD) ministry agreed to work with the recommendations made by the finance ministry. The cabinet will now be approached by the HRD ministry for permission to implement RUSA in the current fiscal year. Initially proposed in 2012 by then HRD ministerKapil Sibal, the scheme was later approved by a parliamentary consultative committee.
Ashok Thakur, higher education secretary, spoke about the finance ministrys recommendations to various media saying They asked us to make some changes.But they have approved the initial financial requirement.
Rs.99,000 crore will be spent under the scheme over the 12th Plan (2012-17) and 13th Plan (2017-22) periods. The scheme will limit the number of colleges affiliated to a university and at the same time create more universities. The funding will pass through state governments to institutions, the universities will be more accountable for their expenditure and implementation. The states will also have to spend more money on higher education institutions.
A finance ministry official spoke to the press on condition of anonymity and confirmed that the expenditure finance committee has in principle approved the programme with a few conditions. He added We have basically told them to focus on the quality of the institutions rather than just creating new infrastructure. Emphasis should be on student needs such as laboratories and training faculties rather than just building offices and classrooms,.
Thakur clarified that the finance ministry wants them to re-approach their ideas on new universities, quality of education, and the institutions that will receive funding. He said More than physical infrastructure, the focus should be on quality of teaching and learning. We will move the cabinet soon.
The HRD ministry seeks to increase enrollment in higher education institutions from the current 19-30% in the next seven years. This will in turn create more qualified professionals to support a growing economy. The ministry wants to create dozens of new universities and increase the capacity of existing institutions to met this goal. They also want the funding patter for institutions to be changed.
Thakur has stated that the UGC currently funds less than 40% of higher education institutions in India. Most of the allocated funding goes to central government institutions. He stated If you look at the figures, almost 95% of the higher education institutions are under the purview of the states and the rest are under the central government, but its the central government institutions that get bulk of the funding. Through this new scheme, we are trying to change that. More funds to states will lead to better infrastructure, teaching and research (in the institutions run by them),.
Under RUSA, the funding to institutions will be performance-linked and up to 90% of funding will be from the central government. State governments will have to set up a higher education council. Funds from the central government to colleges and universities will move through this higher education council unlike now where the money goes straight to a college. He spoke on this aspect saying States will monitor the fund flow and will commit that their higher education spending will not shrink year after year. States have to spend at least 4% of the state GDP (gross domestic product) on higher education,.
Narayanan Ramaswamy, a partner (education practice) at audit and consulting firm KPMG also aired his views on the scheme saying There will be some leakages in the state level, but that does not mean we should stop funding institutions to improve them. What it (the central government) needs (to do) is attach a strict accountability clause along with funding, he added