UGC chalks out road map to improve education quality

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Chennai, Mar 30 (UNI) The University Grants Commission (UGC) has chalked out a broad road-map for increasing enrolment and improving the quality of higher education in colleges and universities, its Chairman Sukhadeo Thorat said today.

Delivering the third convocation address of SRM University on its campus in suburban Kattankukathur, he said the ten per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio (access to higher education) in India was very low when compared to the world average of 23 per cent and 40 per cent to 60 per cent in developed and developing nations.

''Though the GER in India had gone up from less than one per cent in 1950 to ten per cent now, it has to be increased further''.

Speaking on ''Higher Education in India, strategy and action plan for development under new initiatives in the 11th Plan'' Prof Thorat said international experience proved that achieving 25 per cent GER was a necessity for sustainable economic development.

''The Eleventh Plan had set a target of 15 per cent GER by 2012'', he added.

Detailing further, he said the 11th plan had given an opportunity for review of the present situation of higher education and the National Development Council(NDC) had approved the plan for development of higher education in the next five years.

''Access, inclusiveness, quality and relevant education are the prime focus of the Eleventh Plan'' he observed.

He said the 11th plan would also address the three imbalances -- inter-regional, inter-social and gender -- by supporting colleges and universities and opening of new institutions with matching contribution from the States in 350 districts having GER lower than the national average.

''As most districts with low GER are in rural, hilly, remote, tribal and border areas and small towns, we will give additional support to universities and colleges in these regions'' he said, adding that institutions with a high concentration of SC, ST, OBC and Muslims would get enhanced support.

Prof Thorat said the 11th plan has proposed initiatives for reforming the higher education system, including reforms in academics, governance, affiliating system, fellowship and students assistance patterns, fee structure in universities, public-private partnership(PPP) and some aspects of international education.

Stating that elaborate guidelines were issued by UGC to all Central, State and private unviersities on academic reforms, he said they were advised to evolve an effective mechanism to implement a uniform academic calendar to ensure that ''no student suffers due to delays in declaration of results.'' ''Experts were asked to prepare a detailed action plan to study the quality gaps in higher education institutions and recommend modalities for mitigating them and this action plan was expected soon.

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