University Grants Commission’s report titled “Inclusive and Qualitative Expansion of Higher Education” has outlined major challenges in higher education space and also suggested reforms for the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP). The report submitted to the Human Resource Development Ministry and Planning Commission stresses on the fact that higher education in India is passing through a phase of unprecedented expansion, marked by an explosion in the volume of students, a substantial expansion in the number of institutions and a quantum jump in the level of public funding. The report calls the present scenario as the historic opportunity for the nation to correct mistakes committed in past and requires correction in terms of sectoral and social imbalances, reinvigorating institutions, crossing international benchmarks of excellence and extending the frontiers of knowledge.
Talking about the key challenges to be addressed during 12th five year plan the report says, that access to higher education is still less than the minimum international threshold levels, skewed distribution of institutions, deliberating on the enrolment pattern the report states that the enrolment in public universities is largely concentrated in the conventional disciplines whereas in the private self-financed institutions, the student enrolment is overwhelmingly in the market-driven disciplines.
The report also raises concern about the poor performance of the majority of our higher education institutions in the area of quality on a relative global scale. Quality and the provision of relevant education is another major challenge for the higher education sector. It emphasizes upon important steps like regular revision and upgrading of curriculum, introduction of semester system, choice-based credit system and examination reforms which are yet to be implemented.
It proposes several measures to be adopted during the 12th five year plan and says that the focus should be on upgrading and utilising the existing infrastructure besides creating new ones to meet the objective of regional equity. It also proposes for launch of a national level mission, “Rashtriya Uchch Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)” aimed to achieve 25 per cent national level Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER). The mission would take various key steps, firstly, upgradation of autonomous colleges, colleges with potential for excellence, and colleges which have ‘A’ grade-accreditation from NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) into university-level institutions.
Secondly, RUSA will promote the concept of evening colleges or universities; thirdly, introduction of undergraduate programmes in the universities as integrated undergraduate/ postgraduate programmes; fourth, enhancing the intake capacity of the existing institutions of higher education. The fifth step under RUSA would be to develop the 'College Cluster Universities' regionally and sixth should be to establish ‘Meta University Complexes’ in association with public and private sector undertakings as a part of their corporate social responsibility, on an industry-academia mode.