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Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan

Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan and its achievements

Relevancy

ü  G.S. Paper 2, Prelims

ü  About RUSA, its beginning

ü  The governance reforms central to the scheme

ü  Achievements of RUSA

Recently:

  • The budget for Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan is increased 4 times, and the second phase of the scheme is also approved.
  • For the current year, Rs. 1,300 crore has been provided and funding has been made conditional to the performance.

RUSA is:-

  • Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan.
  • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme launched in 2013.
  • Its aim was to increase enrolment in higher education by 30%.
  • It primarily provides strategic funding to eligible State higher educational institutions.

Why RUSA was introduced?

  • India is estimated to have over 800 universities, with over 40,000 colleges affiliated to them.
  • The Centre’s slant toward premier institutions has continued ever since the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12).
  • Central Fund – Presently, less than 6% of students study in about 150 Centrally-funded institutions.
  • But they corner almost the entire funding by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
  • The funding is mainly directed towards starting more IITs, IIMs and Central universities.
  • State Institutions – About 94% of students of higher education study in 369 State universities.
  • In spite of a nine-fold increase in Budget allocation, State institutions have been left to fend for themselves.
  • To make things worse, investment by State governments has been dwindling each year as higher education is a low-priority area.
  • The University Grant Commission’s system of direct releases to State institutions, bypassing State governments, also leads to their sense of alienation.
  • Thus, despite being the face of higher education in India, State institutions do not get their due share.
  • It was to address these critical concerns that the MHRD launched RUSA.

How does it work?

  • RUSA is not imposed on State governments in a one-size-fits all manner unlike other schemes.
  • Under RUSA, states and institutions have to give an undertaking expressing their willingness to the idea of reform.
  • They should also agree to meet the States’ share of the cost.
  • Accordingly, preparatory grants will be released to States to have the required systems, processes, and the technical support in place.
  • The scheme is largely based on the conditional release of funds.
  • It is linked to reforms in the key areas of governance, learning-teaching outcomes, reaching out to the unreached and infrastructure support.

What are the governance reforms central to the scheme?

  • State Higher Education Councils (SHECs) which have eminent academics, industrialists and other experts have been created.
  • They play a major role, from an academic and professional point of view.
  • They formulate the medium- and long-term State perspective plans.
  • State has to give its commitment to creating a search-cum-select committee.
  • This is to avoid arbitrariness in the selection of vice-chancellors.
  • Mitigating the bane of the affiliation system is also a major objective.
  • This is achieved through a reduction in the number of colleges affiliated per university.
  • This is done by creating cluster universities and promoting autonomous colleges.
  • An important precondition is the filling up of faculty positions and lifting the ban on recruitment (as in some States).

Other efforts to improve learning-teaching outcomes include:

  • improving pedagogy by capacity-building of faculty
  • selecting teachers in a transparent manner
  • adopting accreditation as a mandatory quality-assurance framework
  • implementing semester system
  • involving academics of repute and distinction in decision-making processes

What are the achievements of RUSA so far?

An independent performance review (of four years) of the scheme was done by IIT Bombay in 2017.

It concluded that the funding linked to reforms has had a visible impact on higher education.

GER improved

  • Earlier when RUSA began, the gross enrolment ratio (GER) was 19.4%, faculty vacancies were at a high level of 60%, and a large number of universities were bloated with a teacher-student ratio of 1:24.
  • Now GER is 25.2%, faculty vacancies are down to 35%, the ban on faculty recruitment by States has been lifted, and the teacher-student ratio is now 1:20.

SHECs and governance reforms visible

  • Several universities in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been right sized.
  • Critical governance reforms such as the formation of the SHEC and merit-based appointments of vice-chancellors in Odisha, Goa, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu are visible.

Improvement in accredited institutions

  • There has been an improvement in the number of institutions accredited and their scores.
  • In 2012, 106 State universities and 4,684 colleges were accredited.
  • By 2017, an additional 145 State universities and 5,445 Colleges were accredited.

In terms of its potential

  • RUSA has reprioritized the country’s needs, from funding only a few premier institutions to reaching out to institutions at the bottom of the pyramid.
  • It has also changed the way regulators need to function.

Letting go of government control is the key

  • The litmus test of RUSA will be in how impartially the scheme is administered by the MHRD and the degree to which State governments allow the SHEC to function.
  • Letting go of the governmental stranglehold over universities is linked to this.

 

 

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