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Government to enact student-friendly laws

LiveMint logoLiveMint 05-06-2014 Prashant K. Nanda

New Delhi: In a move that will help students, the new government wants to revive and enact laws to provide statutory status to some elite educational institutes so that they are able to award professional degrees.

These central institutions—the Indian Institute of Information Technology at Kancheepuram and the Schools of Planning and Architecture in Bhopal and Vijayawada—were established in the past five years where more than 700 students have completed their programmes, but were not awarded degrees because there was no enabling legislation.

While reviewing the progress of the higher education department, human resource development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani “expressed her concern” about the current state of affairs related to these two draft legislation, the ministry said in a statement after the meeting on Thursday.

The previous United Progressive Alliance government had introduced the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Bill in the Lok Sabha in March 2013, but was unable to ensure its passage. The School of Planning and Architecture Bill was not tabled. The HRD ministry wanted to enact them through ordinances, but failed to get the necessary approvals.

“The minister directed the officers concerned to immediately take up the matter in the coming Parliament session so that both the Bills, which are ready, could be passed,” the ministry statement said on Thursday.

After the National Democratic Alliance took charge on 26 May, this is the first key decision by the HRD ministry to revive and push pending education legislation. Nearly a dozen education reform Bills lapsed during the previous Lok Sabha’s tenure. The two draft laws will have to be introduced afresh.

“In the meanwhile, efforts would also be made to explore the possibilities to have these institutions declared as off-campus centre of one of the existing institution so that standby arrangement of conferring degrees could be put in place,” the ministry said.

For example, the school in Bhopal and Vijaywada can be made off-campus centres of the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi till the Bills are passed in Parliament.

This beginning augurs well for the sector as a non-partisan approach to education reform will benefit the country, a ministry official said. The official, who requested not to be named, said that the new government pushing for legislation of its predecessor speaks volumes about how the NDA looks at the task at hand.

The draft legislation are ready and can be introduced during the budget session of Parliament, the official said.

The IIIT Bill seeks to declare some technology institutions as institutions of national importance and will create mechanisms to establish new IIITs. Objectives of such national institutes include advancing new information and innovation in IT sector and improve capabilities of youth in the sector.

Some of the education Bills of the previous government were well thought through but could not see their logical end, said Ajit Rangnekar, dean of Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. “The new government has to be enabling in nature for the education sector,” Rangnekar said. “The aim should be to remove impediments, enable and encourage through required legislation and orders for the sector to grow.”

India has one of the biggest education system in the world with over 36,000 colleges and over 600 universities. has estimated The country’s education market is likely to be worth `5.9 trillion in 2014-15 compared with `3.33 trillion in 2011-12, according to a report by India Ratings and Research Pvt. Ltd, the local unit of Fitch Ratings Inc.

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