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National Higher Education Mission :: RUSA, a boon for state higher education

N. Premananda Singh *

University Grants Commission UGC Logo



Introduction

Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) is a centrally sponsored scheme proposed by the Ministry of Human Resources Development/ UGC to ensure holistic planning at the state level and enhancement of allocations for the state institutions, which will spread over the two plan periods (XIIth and XIIIth) and it will focus on state higher educational institutions. A sum of Rs 5,00,00,000 has been earmarked for the implementation of RUSA in India during the said two plan periods.

There are 316 states public universities and 13,024 colleges that can be covered under RUSA. The funding will be provided in the (Centre:State) ratio of 90:10 for North-East States.

The draft proposal of RUSA was approved by the Hon'ble Human Resource Development Minister and the same copy has been placed on the Ministry's website www.mhrd.gov.in for discussion with various stakeholders. A meeting with State Governments was convened on 8th February, 2012 by the HRM to discuss the same.

HRD Ministry in consultation with Tata Institute of Social Sciences prepared the current draft of RUSA which has been published in January 2013 for circulation.

HIGHLIGHTS

Some important provisions of RUSA are highlighted here in order to give awareness to all concerned. Certainly, RUSA can prove to be a boon for the states like Manipur which are unable to implement the updated modern infrastructure and other essential items for upgradation of higher education systems due to shortage of fund.

RUSA will have a completely new approach towards funding higher education in state universities and colleges. It is based on key principles of performance-based funding, incentivising well performing institutions and decision making through clearly defined norms, which will establish and rely upon a management information system to gather the essential information from institutions.

RUSA will aim to provide greater autonomy to universities as well as colleges and have a sharper focus on equity-based development and improvement in teaching-learning quality and research. It will be a new flagship scheme of the Government of India after successful implementations of SSA and RMSA in the primary and secondary levels of education respectively for overall development of the education system in India to compete with fast global changes.

Higher education needs to be viewed as a long-term social investment for the promotion of economic growth, cultural development, social cohesion, equity and justice. The globalisation era has necessitated inculcation of competitive spirit at all levels. This can be achieved only by bringing quality of higher standards to every sphere of work. Therefore, the quality of higher education has become a major concern today.

On an average, about 94% of the students enrolled in state funded or state controlled private institutions come under the state higher education system in India. In Manipur, there are altogether 71 colleges which include 28 Government colleges, 12 aided colleges and 31private colleges. Enrolment of students in colleges during the last session were 22,968 students in Government colleges, 12,115 in aided colleges and 6,525 students in private colleges. It shows that 55.2% of the total enrolment was in Government colleges and more than 84% of students were enrolled in state funded Government and aided colleges. So, any efforts for development in this sector must recognise the importance of state higher education system.

An important element in ensuring quality and excellence in Higher Education is the need for adequate number of good faculty in Institutions of Higher Education. The number of existing teachers in government colleges is 1,019 and the number of sanction posts is 1,303. Thus, about 21.8% of the current faculty requirement remains vacant. However, as per the Manipur University syndicate approval in 1997, the number of teaching faculty required for the Government colleges in the state was 1,551.

So, a shortfall of 248 teachers has not been appointed in Manipur due to financial constrains in addition to the current vacant posts of 284 teachers. In other words, a total of 532 posts of teachers are not filled up now. This can be treated as an insult to the higher education system in Manipur. Moreover, underpaid teachers under the nomenclature of Part Time Lecturers have been utilised in the Government colleges to make up the huge shortfall in the number of teaching faculty in the colleges since the last 15-24 years. This is a clear evidence of compromising our higher education system with poverty of the state.

Faculty shortage creates serious hurdles in the proper functioning of a college or University. All activities from the basic functions of teaching and research to curriculum development are compromised. The Supreme Court in its landmark judgment in T.M.A. Pai matter, had severely castigated institutions which do not employ full time qualified faculty. It said that "teachers are like foster parents to the students; can we afford to place the future of the country in hands of these hired teachers".

RUSA gives emphasis to ensure adequate availability of quality faculty in all higher educational institutions and ensure capacity building at all levels of employment. It is one of the various goals of RUSA. "Faculty Planning" is one of its strategic focus of RUSA and recruitment and capacity building of faculty is one of the its 15 primary components.

PREREQUISITES

A State Higher Education Council (SHEC) must be set up. This will perform multiple roles such as strategy and planning, monitoring, evaluation etc.

The States must make a detailed State Plan in the prescribed format duly keeping in mind the norms and indicators prepared under RUSA. Future allocations of fund would be based on the achievement of the targets and past performance of the States.

The State Government must commit 4% of its GSDP (Gross Domestic Products) for the State Higher Education Sector, if not in the first year of RUSA, but at least within 3 years of RUSA implementation.

It is necessary to appoint full time faculty in adequate numbers. Hence, the states must ensure that the faculty positions are filled on a phase-wise manner.

If any state has imposed a ban on regular recruitment of faculty, the state must ensure lifting of all bans on recruitment, and requisite proof must be produced.

"Filling faculty positions" is one of the prerequisites for the states to obtain fund under RUSA. Not more than 15% of the faculty positions can remain vacant at any time in the state. If any state has more than 15% faculty positions remaining vacant by the end of the first year of RUSA, such states may lose the entitlement for any further grants.

The appointments made as well as the faculty already appointed must be remunerated according to UGC regulations and latest pay scales as prescribed.

The procedural bottlenecks in the recruitment processes must be actively eliminated.

Assessment and accreditation in the higher education, through transparent and informed external review process, are the effective means of quality assurance in higher education. Accreditation will be carried out by a recognised agency like NAAC.

There are various other provisions to get adequate funding under RUSA for the overall development of the state higher education system. However, accessing of fund strictly depend on the fulfilment of the various prerequisites and the effective utilisation of fund. So, all efforts of the state must be utilised in order to finish preparation of ground works in time so that adequate free flow of funding will come under RUSA. This will be the only ray of hope for a poor state like Manipur for growing up our human resources as par with the global changes in a rapid pace. Otherwise, our future will always be dim.


* N. Premananda Singh wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
The writer is at Zoology Department, Presidency College, Motbung
This article was posted on May 25, 2013.



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