Enhancing access, equity and quality in higher education through institutional and policy reforms is continually being undertaken by the Central Government, in consultation with all stakeholders, including State Governments and academics. This information was given by the Minister for Human Resources Development Smt. Smriti Irani in the Rajya Sabha The University Grants Commission(UGC) has made the accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions mandatory, issued regulations for affiliation of colleges to Universities, maintaining standards in Deemed and Private Universities, laid down the minimum qualifications for appointment to teaching positions, minimum standards for grant of first degree, Master’s degree, M.Phil / Ph.D degree, etc for enhancing quality and access in higher education. The UGC has also laid down regulations for promotion of equity and grievance redressal in higher educational institutions.
Further, the Central Government is implementing the Rashtriya Uchhatar Siksha Abhiyan during the XIIth Plan to incentivise reforms in the state higher educational institutions.
The UGC is a statutory body established in 1956 through the UGC Act, 1956, under Entry 66, List –I of Schedule VII of the Constitution, for the purpose of funding as well as coordinating, determination and maintenance of quality standards in higher education or research in higher educational institutions and the scientific and technical institutions. The mandate of the UGC includes maintenance of standards of higher education, setting standards of curriculum, teaching evaluation and research in universities and colleges, monitoring developments in higher education, disbursing funds to institutions and serving as a link between various agencies of the Central and State Governments. The UGC is specifically mandated to take, in consultation with the Universities or other bodies concerned, all such steps as it may think fit for the promotion and co-ordination of University education and for the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in Universities. While discharging its mandate, the UGC also has to take into account the Rules framed by the Central Government, the Regulations notified by the Commission and the policy framework, as expressed in the National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986. It can issue advisories and directives to Universities for breach of its Rules, Regulations and the NPE. It is also mandated to undertake inspections of Universities and Colleges for ensuring compliance with the norms and standards laid down by it.
In one such case, ie. involving the Four Year Undergraduate Programme of the University of Delhi (DU), the UGC issued an advisory and subsequently a directive to the DU, on 20th June, 2014, to adhere to the 3-year undergraduate programme as envisaged under the 10+2+3 structure under the NPE 1986, while ensuring that students are facilitated through the process of transacting the curriculum under the 10+2+3 structure. The DU was asked to undertake admissions for the academic year 2014-15 and the subsequent academic years in the University of Delhi (including the constituent and other colleges under it) for the general undergraduate programmes in the three year structure which was prevalent in the DU prior to introduction of FYUP.
The UGC also species a list of degrees, in accordance with Section 22(3) of the UGC Act, 1956, to be awarded by the Universities and Deemed to be Universities. The Parliament has also reviewed the UGC Act, 1956 from time to time and amended it in 1972, 1984 and 1985. Subject to the observance of UGC Rules, Regulations and the NPE, the Universities already have the necessary autonomy in the matter of award of specified degrees and framing of syllabi and curriculum as per their Acts, Statutes and Ordinances.