Innovation universities Bill stuck, University Grants Commission looks at giving funds to existing universities for innovation

With a Bill to set up 14 world-class innovation universities stuck in Parliament, the University Grants Commission has come up with an alternative plan to pump in funds for innovative projects, research and governance ideas in the existing universities.

Funds ranging from Rs 25 crore to Rs 300 crore would be given by the UGC under the plan, to universities coming up with innovative ideas in higher education, be it teaching, research or organisational research.

These funds cannot be used for usual infrastructure development, setting up of new departments, routine improvements in teaching, supporting professional bodies or implementation of UGC regulations.

Central and state universities that have been operating for 10 years and have 'A' level accreditation from the National Assessment & Accreditation Council will be eligible for the scheme.

"The basic objective is to promote innovative ways of learning, sharing and collectively growing within and without. The scheme is meant to support bold and big ideas that require substantial support and flexibility, ideas that usually do not fit into any of the existing patterns of funding and do not, therefore, see the light of the day. This basic mandate of the scheme will be interpreted flexibly," the scheme says.

Innovative teaching will cover aspects such as new degrees and courses, changes in curricula, new learning material, new methods of evaluation, internationalisation of teaching methods and innovative teaching feedback mechanism etc.

Similarly, by innovative research, the UGC is looking at inter-disciplinary and cross-border research, creation of research facilities that can be used by a large number of students and institutes, research that connects traditional and practical knowledge as well as innovative dissemination of research to the community and local context.

Organisational innovations will include improvement in the admission process, deepening of diversity and equity and expansion of access, governance models that enhance efficiency, transparency and accountability, reduction of conflict of interest and new means of fund-raising, apart from expense-monitoring systems.

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