The Centre’s intention to scrap the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act and replace it with the proposed Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) is indicative of an aggressive thrust to implement a toxic mix of right-wing Hindutva agenda and neo-liberalism, economist C.P. Chandrasekhar has said.
He was delivering the opening lecture at the two-day national higher education conference on ‘The dissolution of UGC: perils and consequences,’ organised by the Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC), which got under way on Tuesday. Prof. Chandrasekhar, professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said while reforms that were aimed at facilitating privatisation had been going on since the early 2000s, the last few years had witnessed an acceleration of such tendencies.
“There has been a push to shift the boundary from the perception in which higher education was a non-profit state domain to that in which the sector is increasingly considered a private profit domain. Under the neo-liberal regime, the State has now changed its own role to facilitate the private sector to register profits. Private players have now realised that it is possible to identify, filter and generate specific skills and capabilities and impart them among students in an externalised manner,” he said.
Advocating steps to retain UGC with certain reforms, Telangana State Council of Higher Education vice-chairman V. Venkata Ramana cautioned that the HECI would lead to centralisation of powers and would go against principles of the federalism.
Kerala Council for Historical Research chairperson P.K. Michael Tharakan presided over the session.
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