The Tamil Nadu government has decided to oppose the centre’s move to scrap the University Grants Commission (UGC) and establish a Higher Education Commission of India that would be dedicated solely to improving the quality of higher education. This was decided at a high powered panel headed by chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.
The centre had formulated a draft law and asked for comments from the public, fixing July 7 as the last date for submission of comments. Last week, the leader of the opposition M K Stalin, during an intervention in the Assembly, demanded that Tamil Nadu should oppose the move to scrap the UGC. Replying to him, higher education minister K P Anbalagan said the state would ensure that whatever it was getting from the UGC should continue with the new mechanism. He said the state will not give up on what is rightfully due to it.
The center then extended the July 7 deadline to July 20 and asked that the state governments should give their opinion by then. Many educationists have been opposing the centre’s proposal saying it would centralize higher education in the country and would allow bureaucrats to control it.
On Friday morning, the higher education minister met with 13 university vice-chancellors from the state at the secretariat and sought their opinion on the issue. After the meeting, he presented their views at a meeting presided by the chief minister. Deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, fisheries minister Jayakumar, forest minister Dindigul Srinivasan, chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan, revenue secretary Shanmugam, higher education secretary Sunil Paliwal and other officials attended the meeting.
Speaking to newsmen after the meeting, Anbalagan said the UGC was set up through an Act of Parliament and has been functioning since then. There was no need to scrap it and replace it with a new body that would be tasked only with improving quality of education while the funding function would be vested with the Union human resource minister. The center will be informed of the state’s stand, he said.