Time for state to pull up socks as RUSA sets strict guidelines

With Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) getting an in-principle endorsement from Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), state governments, including Maharashtra, will have to get their act together.

According to the proposed guidelines, there are strict conditions or non-negotiables states will have to comply with to avail grants under the scheme. With large affiliating universities and vacant faculty posts, Maharashtra lacks on many fronts.

Academicians said the state will have to step up academic and administrative reforms and fastrack their implementation.

"RUSA is proposed to be an umbrella scheme that would subsume existing schemes and the central funding would flow from MHRD through state councils of higher education to institutions. States would be funded on the basis of plans of higher education prepared by them. All funding under RUSA would be norm-based and future grants would be outcome-dependent. Certain academic, administrative and governance reforms will be a precondition for receiving funding under RUSA," said the CABE document.

The non-negotiables include creating a detailed state plan, keeping in mind the RUSA indicators. RUSA also calls for setting up state higher education councils, which will perform multiple roles such as strategy, planning, monitoring, evaluation and fund management at the state level.

"Four reports on reforming and revamping higher education in Maharashtra are lying in cold storage. The proposed Maharashtra State Council for Higher Education and Development (MAHED) is similar to the higher education council in RUSA. Hopefully, the Maharashtra government will act faster," said a senior academician.

Further, state governments will have to undertake reforms in the affiliation system by limiting the number of colleges affiliated to any university to 100, implying establishment of more affiliating universities than the present system.

It also moots creation of cluster universities of a minimum 50 colleges, giving the university its own independent establishment and relevance.

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