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Union Budget: What is on store for higher education?

By   /  February 1, 2017  /  Comments Off on Union Budget: What is on store for higher education?

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New Delhi: Establishment of National Testing Agency (NTA), reforming the University Grants Commission (UGC), granting autonomy to educational institutes based on performance, and strengthening Swayam online platform are key highlights of the Union Budget 2017-18 for the education sector. In addition to these points, the Budget proposed to create Innovation Fund for secondary education to encourage local innovation.

During Union Budget 2017-18 presentation, the Finance Minister said that Mr Arun Jaitley informed that National Testing Agency (NTA) Mr Arun Jaitley will act as a nodal agency to conduct, streamline and implement entrance examinations in the higher education system.  The government proposes to establish a NAT as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions. This would free the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and other premier institutions from these administrative responsibilities so that they can focus more on academics.

The Government will undertake reforms in the UGC. Good quality institutions will be empowered to have greater administrative and academic autonomy. In his Budget Speech, the Finance Minister said that the colleges will be identified based on accreditation and ranking, and given autonomous status. A revised framework will be put in place for outcome based accreditation and credit based programmes.

The Budget proposed that the Swayam platform, online education platform under MOOC (Massive open online course model), will be linked to DTH TV services. Through Swayam online platform, students can access courses by best faculty, take test and access academic grades. The Government has plans to leverage information technology and launch SWAYAM Platform with at least 350 online courses.

Commenting on the Union Budget, Dr  Sanjay Dhande, Chief Mentor, Avantika University,  said  “The budget indicates some very encouraging signs of change, in particular, the introduction of a National Agency for Testing and Entrance Exams is a welcome initiative – long overdue. It will reduce the burden of students. However, the present form of one single exam is not in-tune with the technology as well as the scientific developments happening in the field of testing. There are more than 200 agencies in the world which are developing better and newer concepts of testing, so this agency should not be a traditional bureaucratic agency but a modern and forward-looking agency.”

Dr Dhande also said that the announcement to develop a system for measuring learning at school level is indeed a welcome move. The emphasis on flexible curriculum and science education will require a very progressive school management and administration. The practice of measuring annual learning outcome in the education of backward blocks will also enable the society to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures undertaken by the government.

The Budget also proposed that two new AIIMS will be opened one in Gujarat and another in Jharkhand.

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