Taking a step towards establishing a common higher educational body, the government has set up a committee to merge UGC and AICTE offices. A common body to oversee higher educational institutes — Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) — was proposed first in 2018 and was one of the biggest transformations suggested under the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
Now, in a step in the same direction, a committee has been set-up to prepare a roadmap for UGC and AICTE to work together as a single regulatory entity. The first key areas to be merged include research and innovation, e-governance, translation of books in regional languages, and examination reforms, among others. These operations were being handled for technical colleges by AICTE and universities and colleges of non-technical backgrounds by UGC.
The decision was taken at a meeting of all the bureau heads of the technical education and higher education regulators. UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar, who is also the interim chairperson of AICTE at the meeting said, “Post detailed deliberations, it emerged that both UGC and AICTE must share a symbiotic relationship and mutually work on matters such as faculty development programme, students and faculty induction programme, skill development, internships, internationalisation, pursuing two degrees simultaneously in physical, online, hybrid mode and Indian Knowledge System and universal human values, among others,” Kumar said.
The government is expected to table a Bill to set up HECI in the winter session of the Parliament. The HECI will be a single overarching umbrella body for higher education, as per the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. All regulatory bodies including the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), University Grants Commission (UGC), and National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE) will be merged to form the HECI.
A committee has been set up to oversee the merger. The committee headed by the UGC chairperson also includes the vice-chairperson of UGC and AICTE, the UGC secretary, and the AICTE member-secretary among others. Several sub-committees have also been set-up to oversee the transition in key areas.
Meanwhile, Anil Sahasrabudhe who was the AICTE chief earlier has retired recently and has been appointed as the chief of the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) – a single stop for technical interventions in schools and higher educational institutes.