The Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011 that seeks to establish the National Commission on Higher Education and Research (NCHER) has been tabled in Rajya Sabha.
The Bill seeks to promote autonomy of higher education and innovation and to provide for comprehensive and integrated growth of higher education and research keeping in view the global standards of educational and research practices, for which it will establish the National Commission for Higher Education and Research, a regulatory body for university education.
The Commission will have powers to take all measures necessary to spearhead the transformative changes in higher education. It will frame regulations and promote autonomy for institutional accountability, promote joint and cross-disciplinary programmes between and among institutions of higher education, to promote development of a curriculum framework with specific reference to new or emerging or inter-disciplinary fields of knowledge and to promote synergy of research in universities and higher educational institutions and with other research agencies.
The proposed law also provides for the establishment of a General Council, which is proposed to be a representative body with advisory and recommendatory functions, in addition to the powers to approve the regulations framed by the Commission. The Council will have, in addition to chairperson and members of the Commission, the heads of professional bodies, research councils and experts in all sectoral areas of higher education.
The Board for Research promotion and Innovation will formulate research and innovation policy for sustained global competitiveness, promote transformative and multi-disciplinary research in higher educational institutions, and facilitate the modernisation of research infrastructure in higher educational institutions.
The proposed law also has provisions for the establishment of a Higher Education Financial Services Corporation that will disburse grants to universities and higher educational institutions.
The proposed Act also seeks to establish Qualifications Advisory Council in Vocational Education. This Council shall advise and make recommendations on qualifications framework in skill areas and define the competencies in such skill areas. It will also make recommendations on standards of academic quality and benchmarking such standards in programmes of study leading to the award of diploma in such skill areas. It will also advise and make recommendations on norms for accreditation of higher educational institutions imparting vocational education in such skill areas.