Providing interest subsidy to underprivileged students on educational loans and introduction of a bill to regulate foreign educational institutions in India are among the targets the Human Resource Development Ministry has set for the next 100 days.
In response to the 100-day timeline set by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the HRD Ministry has prepared a 100-day activity plan that involves establishing educational tribunals in institutions for settling disputes between the staff and authorities.
"We have prepared the activity plan for the next 100 days as per the timeline fixed by the mrime minister. The targets are of immense importance for the growth of education," informed a senior ministry official.
The ministry also aims to establish autonomous State Higher Education Councils in all states with the support of the University Grants Commission, he said. At present, a few states do not have such councils, which coordinate between universities and institutions within a state and raise their issues before the government.
Besides, there is plan to sanction 100 new women's hostels in higher educational institutions and sanction ten new National Institutes of Technologies in the next 100 days.
The government will also introduce academic reforms in educational institutions. These reforms include semester system, credit transfer and revision of curriculum. The UGC has prepared a guideline on academic reforms which has been circulated to the universities for follow-up.
The government hopes to implement a new scheme to give education loans to economically backward and meritorious students at subsidised interest rate. The scheme, which is waiting for the approval of the Cabinet, is intended to provide the benefits to non-creamy layer students for professional courses.
It will be an add-on scheme to the existing higher education loan programme. An estimated Rs 4000 crore will be given to the needy students during the 11th Plan period under this scheme.
The HRD Ministry is also keen to introduce the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations, Maintenance of Quality and Prevention of Commercialisation) Bill in the Parliament.
The Bill got the Cabinet's nod in February 2007. It seeks to regulate the entry, operation and maintenance of foreign education providers and protect students from receiving sub-standard education from fly-by-night operators.
As per the Bill, all foreign universities would get the status of Deemed Universities, thereby bringing them under the ambit of University Grants Commission regulations.
The ministry also plans to make accreditation mandatory for all the higher and technical educational institutions.
At present, a meagre 10 per cent of the institutions have been accredited. Besides, the ministry has a target to have a broadband Internet network connecting 5000 colleges and universities under the ICT Mission started in February this year.
The ultimate aim is to provide connectivity to 20,000 colleges and over 400 universities in the country. The government will establish 100 new polytechnic institutes in the next 100 days in districts which do not have such an institute.
The ultimate plan is to set up 100 polytechnics in the country to impart skill-based programmes. Under the Merit Scholarship Scheme, the government will deposit the scholarship amount in the bank accounts of the eligible students.
The scholarship is meant for Class-XII pass-outs. The ministry is also keen to take up the Distance Education Council Bill, that seeks to make DEC a statutory body.