New Delhi, Jul 24 (UNI) Flush with new funds to get more youngsters into colleges, authorities took steps today towards setting up new universities-- or improving existing ones-- and throwing the book at ''fake'' or ''bad'' universities.
''Immediate action'' against 'fake' universities'' under the Indian Penal Code and closing down ''bad institutions with poor infrastructure'' were among steps on which the Centre and States agreed at a two day conference ended this evening.
''There has been cooperation all the way,'' by Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh who had convened the meeting told journalists afterwards.
''States agreed to take immediate action against 'fake' universities and dubious institutions under the Indian Penal Code,'' an official statement said, adding States were also ''unanimous'' that ''bad institutions with poor infrastructure... be closed down.'' In reply to questions, Singh spoke of stronger enforcement of law and, where necessary, strengthening it.
The conference of Higher and Technical Education Ministers of State Governments was convened by Singh given a nine-fold-plus increase in the XI Central Five Year Plan allocation for higher and technical education as compared to the X Plan allocation.
India's gross enrollment ratio in higher education is roughly ten per cent and sought to be raised to 15 per cent to begin with.
The meeting at Vigyan Bhawan was attended by 25 State Technical or Higher Education Ministers and 29 State Technical or Higher Education Principal Secretaries, Secretaries or Commissioners.
It also brought in the Chief Ministers of Goa and Uttarakhand, the Lt Gov of Anadaman and Nicobar Islands, the Chairman of Andhra Pradesh State Council for Higher Education, the Vice Chairman of Kerala State Higher Education Council.
Officials of the University Grants Commission, the All India Council for Technical Education and Indira Gandhi National Open University, a leading distance education provider, also took part.
The increase will mean adding eight more Indian Institutes of Technology, seven Indian Institutes of Management, ten National Institutes of Technology, twenty Indian Institutes of Information Technology and 16 Central Universities.
Also on the cards are 14 world class Central Universities, three Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research and two Schools of Planning and Architecture.
The Centre will also help States establish 373 new degree colleges in districts with low Gross Enrollment ratio and 600 polytechnics.
A National Mission on Education through information and communication technology is proposed to give broadband connectivity to higher and technical education institutions.
Incentives are proposed for State governments starting new institutions of higher and technical education apart from expanding and developing existing institutions.
Singh said participants found the discussions ''very useful'' and suggested organising such Conferences by way of follow up every 6 months. They also suggested a common platform to discuss medical and other institutions along with other higher and technical education sectors.
States subscribed to the goals of Access, Equity and Excellence in Higher and Technical Education and most Ministers conceded the need to spend six per cent of the Gross Domestic Product on education and promised to go back and take it up appropriately, he said.
Participants wanted higher allocations to States with low GER without insistence on their full share but in view of fund limitations were told this could be done only if some other schemes were dropped.
The HRD Ministry promised efforts to reduce the burden for Northeastern States, its statement said.
The Ministry reported ''considerable agreement on the critical need to pay attention to quality of institutions and programmes.'' It said States were unanimously of the view that bad institutions with poor infrastructure be closed down and stressed a perspective plan for balanced development of the regions.
Participants wanted the Council to finalise such a perspective plan urgently in consultation with State governments so that permissions of professional institutes are granted by the regulatory authority taking into account State Governments recommendations.
The Council should also permit diploma level courses to be run in engineering colleges during the second shift subject to availability of required faculty and other infrastructure, they held.
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