Student activists and teachers gathered outside the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development on Wednesday to protest against the proposed move to dismantle the University Grants Commission (UGC) and replace it with the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).
The students felt the design of the proposed HECI carried several dangerous implications for the future of higher education in India.
“The Ministry claims this reform of replacing the UGC with the HECI will provide more autonomy and facilitate holistic growth of the education system. But a reading of the content of the proposed move reveals that the intention of the Ministry is just the opposite,” said students.
Addressing the gathering, former DUTA president Nandita Narain said she had seen for the first time in her 40 years of teaching experience a government working extra hours to “systematically destroy” public-funded institutions of the country.
“If the proposed amendment happens, it will kill existing higher education institutions, which today allow students from deprived backgrounds to come and study,” she said.
AISA national president Sucheta De said the Ministry’s decisions, including imposing self-financing and government fund cut in the name of autonomy, the proposal to scrap UGC and the latest declaration regarding ‘Institutes of Eminence’, pose a major challenge to the future of affordable higher education in the country.
“The newly proposed HECI will have no grant giving power and that power is now being completely taken over by the Ministry directly. This is nothing but an attempt of direct political control over universities by the party in power. In the last four years, we have seen how the ruling party has unleashed its political vendetta against universities,” Ms. De said.
AISA activist Kawalpreet Kaur added that the government had promised that the youth will be the future of the country but was working towards destroying public-funded education.
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