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State meet on varsity monitor

The state higher education council is likely to oppose the Centre’s move to abolish the University Grants Commission (UGC) and create the National Commission for Higher Education and Research, an overarching regulator for higher education.

The state government will host a consultation on the bill, drafted to form the commission, in Salt Lake on March 3, where the council members are likely to express reservations about the proposal. Representatives of Orissa and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands would also attend the meeting.

“There are shortcomings in the functioning of the UGC. However, the policies implemented by the body since its formation in 1957 has contributed to the development of higher education. Many academicians in Bengal are not in favour of the abolition of the UGC,” said an official in the West Bengal Council of Higher Education.

Apart from the UGC, the proposed commission could replace the All India Council for Technical Education and curb the powers of the National Council of Assessment and Accreditation, the National Council of Teacher Education and other bodies.

The higher education council has convened a meeting on February 24 to discuss the issue. The outcome of the discussions will determine what the council members say at the March 3 consultation.

“Heads of universities, education department officials and senior academicians would attend our February 24 meeting so that we can agree on a stand,” said Subimal Sen, the council chairman.

The human resource development ministry took steps to set up the commission acting on recommendations of the Yash Pal panel, formed in 2008 to suggest ways to upgrade the higher education system.

One of the objectives behind creating the commission is to give full autonomy to universities, which will design their own courses, including those for medical and engineering, said a council official.

The commission, according to the Yash Pal committee, will oversee the functioning of the universities and act as a facilitator for growth of higher education and research.

“We are not fully opposed to the creation of the commission. What we want to make clear to the ministry is that there should be no loopholes that allow political influence,” said an official in the higher education department.

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