New Delhi, 19 March 2021 – University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), and National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE) are finally on the path of a merger. With this move, HECI or Higher Education Commission of India shall become a single regulator of higher education, as per the NEP guidelines from this year.
AICTE Chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe announced this decision on Thursday, 18th March 2021. The conference was held under the aegis of the Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI). He stated that at present, the three regulatory/ autonomous bodies (UGC, AICTE & NCTE) manages the functioning of various higher educational institutes. With the creation of HECI as a single overarching umbrella body for higher education, the candidates will benefit in the long run.
The reduction in the number of autonomous bodies will ensure that the students can avail more educational benefits. Although HECI will act as a single body, the autonomous bodies will continue to work as distinct and independent bodies. They will each assume separate functions of accreditation, funding, and academic standard setting.
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4 Verticals of HECI
As per the New Education Policy 2020, numerous functions including funding, accreditation, and academic standard-setting would be carried out by independent verticals. Every form of education, barring legal and medical education would come under the ambit of HECI.
The purpose behind NEP 2020 and the creation of HECI is to ensure better educational benefits for students. To ensure the implementation of this ideal, several verticals of HECI will be brought into action.
- Vertical #1
HECI will take upon the functions of the National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC). Until now, AICTE was responsible for regulating technical and engineering education, UGC regulated higher education, and NCTE was responsible for regulating teacher training and education.
Note – HECI will function as a common, single-point regulator for the higher education sector which includes teacher education. However, medical and legal education are excluded.
- Vertical #2
HECI will function as the National Accreditation Council (NAC). It will accredit institutes based on basic good governance, public self-disclosure, norms, and outcomes.
- Vertical #3
HECI will function as the General Education Council (GEC). It is expected to create a framework out of the learning outcomes for higher education programmers, which is also known as the ‘graduate attributes’. The General Education Council will also help create the framework of the National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF).
- Vertical #4
HECI will act as the Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC). It will help facilitate the funding and financing of higher education based on transparent criteria.
How will the HECI Benefit the Students and Institutions?
Mr. Anil Sahasrabudhe, speaking at the one-day national conference on the Salient features of approval process of handbook (20212022) for resetting technical education and implementing NEP, stated the various features of HECI that benefit students, faculty, and institutions.
Benefits for Students
- HECI’s implementation will offer students more flexibility in admissions. The policy will encourage and allow students from other streams (other than the science stream)to join Engineering Colleges.
- However, such students have to take up ‘bridge courses’ in Mathematics, Physics, or subjects they have not studied in higher secondary.
- Students of commerce background who fail to cope up with subjects like Maths, Chemistry and Physics can instead excel in entrepreneurship by pursuing some other course.
Benefits for Institutions
- The implementation of HECI will create a window of opportunities. The first example is a plausible tie-up between Indian institutions and foreign institutions.
- Around 100 top institutions in the national ranking (India) can form an alliance for academic and research collaboration and twinning with 500 top global ranking institutes.
- HECI will help improve academic standards with a specific focus on learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, mentoring institutions, training teachers, promoting the use of educational technology, etc.
- It will assist in developing norms for setting standards for opening and closing of institutions, lay standards for appointments to critical leadership positions at the institutional level irrespective of University started under any Law (including State Law), and provide greater flexibility and autonomy to institutions.
HECI’s Agenda – Focus on Transparency
With a single regulatory body (HECI), the focus would be inclined more towards the quality of education rather than the number of subjects. The idea behind this policy is of a ‘light but firm approach’.
HECI would focus on providing overarching support and encourage the institutions to have their own governance structure. It is an effort to improve the quality of higher education in India and bring more and more educational institutes to international standards.
Finally, the policy has a singular purpose – do away with micromanaging and provide a conducive environment for growth and research in the domain.