Saturday, January 06, 2007


National Knowledge Commission proposes 50 national universities

NKC suggests a 5-fold expansion of higher education


NEW DELHI: Even as the National Knowledge Commission suggests a five-fold expansion of the higher education system, it has argued for creating ‘completely new institutions that operate unconstrained by the current institutional and regulatory framework’. The Commission has recommended setting up of 50 national universities that can provide education of the highest standard.

As examplars for the rest of the nation, these universities shall train students in a variety of disciplines. The Commission has suggested setting up 10 national universities over the next three years.

Not all 50 of the proposed national universities need be new universities. Some of the exisiting universities could be converted into national universities after a rigorous process of selection “to act as examplars”.

Faculty for these universities should not present a problem. The Commission is of the view that these universities or ‘centres of academic excellence’ will have no trouble attracting talent from among those who choose other professions in India or the academic profession outside India.

The Commission has suggested that these universities will need significant initial financial support from the government. Taking a cue from the land grant universities in the US, the NKC has suggested that that “each university may be endowed with substantial allocation of public land, in excess of its spatial requirements.

The excess land can be subsequent source of income generation.” The Commission has recommended making exceptions to tax laws to encourage large endowments. These universities would have the autonomy to set fee levels and tap other sources for funds.

On admissions, NKC has recommended a needs blind policy. The university would be structured through the system of credits for both undergraduate and graduate education. The National Universities will not have any affiliated colleges. Strong linkages between teaching and research, universities and industry, and universities and research laboratories would have to be forged at the national universities.

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