In a setback to the long planned creation of a national overarching regulatory mechanism for higher education — National Commission on Higher Education & Research — the Parliamentary Standing Committee examining the NCHER Bill has questioned the proposal terming it an unmanageable and unviable structure that seemed to be surrounded with an air of suspicion and confusion.
The NCHER Bill was proposed and moved by former HRD Minister Kapil Sibal following recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission and Prof Yashpal-led committee on rejuvenation of higher education for creation of a single overarching regulator. The proposed Bill had invited considerable opposition from the states.
The parliamentary panel has recommended that the NCHER must act as an “advisor and guide” to other regulatory bodies and facilitate their functioning. The panel has called for greater representation of states so the federal structure is maintained.
The panel has recommended that the government work toward strengthening existing regulatory bodies instead of focussing on an overarching regulator as the latter with its multiple roles may prove unmanageable for an ever expanding sector. It was felt that critical aspects like monitoring mechanisms for technical institutes were missing.
The panel has suggested the ministry should have found a middle path to address states’ concerns as there was suspicion and confusion regarding the proposed super regulator that will subsume established bodies like the UGC.