One overarching body likely for higher education

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NEW DELHI: The final draft of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has proposed an overarching Higher Education Promotion Commission (HEPC) with four separate verticals —regulation, accreditation, funding, and academic standard— as part of complete overhaul of the present regulatory system. At present, there are separate regulators for different sets of institutions. Technical institutions are under the AICTE, universities and colleges under the UGC, medical colleges under the Medical Council of India, etc.
Under the proposed regulatory system, distinct functions of regulation, accreditation, funding and setting academic standards will be performed by independent and empowered bodies irrespective of the branch of study.
HEPC will have four independent verticals—National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) as common, single regulator for the entire higher education sector; National Accreditation Council (NAC), a ‘meta-accrediting body’; Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding and financing of higher education; and General Education Council (GEC) to frame expected learning outcomes for higher education programmes.
Technical institutions are under the AICTE, universities and colleges under the UGC, medical colleges under the Medical Council of India, etc. Under the proposed regulatory system, distinct functions of regulation, accreditation, funding and setting academic standards will be performed by independent and empowered bodies irrespective of the branch of study.
HEPC will have four independent verticals—National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) as common, single regulator for the entire higher education sector; National Accreditation Council (NAC), a ‘meta-accrediting body’; Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding and financing of higher education; and GEC to frame expected learning outcomes for higher education programmes. These verticals will have powers for punitive action to shut down or penalise higher educational institutions (HEIs) for dishonesty in self-disclosures or for not conforming to basic minimum norms and standards.
According to an HRD official, these four verticals will subsume the present regulatory bodies as their specific roles will be redistributed. For example, UGC’s functions relating to academic standards will be subsumed under GEC, while its funding powers will go to HEGC. Similarly, National Assessment and Accreditation Council will be incorporated in NAC. The document advocates for greater autonomy to all HEIs and the responsibility will rest on its Board of Governors.

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