The universities will not be selected by the prime minister or a chief minister or any other political figure. Their potential will be assessed by a third party agency.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised Rs 10,000 crore and autonomy to 20 universities — 10 public and private — in the country so as to compete globally and be counted among the world’s best institutions.
Speaking at the centenary celebrations of Patna University (PU), India’s seventh oldest varsity, Modi rued that no Indian institution was ranked among the top 500 in the world.
“Isn’t it a slur on us? Shouldn’t the situation change in a country that has had an unmatched legacy in the field of education, with institutions like Nalanda, Vikramshila and many more?” he asked.
“We will provide an assistance of Rs 10,000 crore to 10 private universities and an equal number of government ones for a period of five years. All these universities have to do is to demonstrate their potential to become world class,” he announced.
The varsities will not be selected on the recommendations of PM, CM or anyone, but transparently through third party appraisal on laid down parameters, viz. innovation, performance, history, quality and many more.
“The state governments will also have a big role in helping their institutions prepare for the challenge,” he said.
A Step Ahead
The Prime Minister’s announcement came moments after Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar earlier urged him to accord central university status to Patna University, in keeping with the sentiments and demands of the public, to which Modi said he wanted to take it a step ahead.
“I have come here with an invitation to PU and all the universities of India to take up the challenge. It is much bigger than what central university status can offer,” he said, virtually putting a lid on PU’s demand and dampening the excitement raised by the CM’s speech.
Modi also asked universities to rope in alumni for their growth. “With the kind of competent alumni PU has, I urge the university connect with them. All institutions should do it, as their contribution could be huge,” he added.
He also recalled that IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) have been set free to chart its own course and compete with the best in the world. “I am confident they will do it.”
From Snakes to ‘Mouse’
The Prime Minister observed that with IT revolution, India has changed its global perception as a country of snake charmers and black magic.
“Long back, while on a visit to Taiwan, I told a friend that we, as a nation, have moved from snakes to the mouse,” he said.
All the institutions of eminence will be governed by the UGC (institutions of eminence deemed to be universities) Regulations, 2017. It will ensure their complete academic, administrative and financial autonomy and free them from restrictive inspection regime and regulatory control.
Stress on Innovation
Maintaining that with the changing requirements of higher education, innovation was the key. Opening up to new ideas, he said, central university was a talk of yesterday. The message was clear: Performance will determine funding.
“In a globalised world, the competition is also global. No country can excel today without innovation, which goes far beyond modification or cosmetic change. Today, countries at the top are innovating the maximum and India cannot wait. We need to match the pace at which the world is changing,” he said.