Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education – Prof. Yashpal Committee Recommendations YouTube Lecture Handouts

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Yashpal Committee on Education
Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation

The Idea of a University

  • University is a place where new ideas germinate, strike roots and grow tall and sturdy.
  • It is a unique space, which covers the entire universe o knowledge.
  • University aims to develop a scholarly and scientific outlook.
  • This outlook involves ability to set aside special interests for the sake of impartial analysis.
  • University is based on the fundamental principle of transcendence.
  • Idea of a university should at the same time aspire to encompass the world of work in all its forms.

Challenges of the Higher Education Sector

  • Loss of primacy of the universities in the scheme of the higher education sector in India.
  • Erosion of their autonomy
  • Undermining of undergraduate education
  • Growing distance between knowledge areas
  • Isolation of universities from the real world outside and crass commercialization

Important that to develop an understanding of these issues before suggesting strategies to renovate and rejuvenate higher education in India.

Distance and Disconnects

Invisible walls

Our undergraduate and graduate programmes are too ‘theoretical’ .

Implication being that they are devoid of ‘practical’ experiences.

University education is seen in its totality and subject areas not be designed in isolation.

Lack of dialogue becomes more profound in areas like engineering, medicine and teacher training.

University՚s loss of academic influence in this respect looks like a case of distribution of responsibilities.

Divide between Research Bodies and Universities

  • Universities were historically conceived as spaces where teaching and research go together.
  • Research and teaching are simply different aspects of academic work.
  • This distinction is being reinforced by separate policies, programs and structures.
  • More and more elite research bodies are created where researchers have absolutely no occasion to engage with young minds.
  • Necessary for all research bodies to connect with universities in their vicinity.
  • Also, create teaching opportunities for their researchers and for all universities to be teaching and research universities.

Isolation of IITs and IIMs

  • IITs and IIMs considered to be bright spots in otherwise dismal scenario of higher education in India.
  • There is little dispute over their claim to quality and excellence.
  • Also, fiercely and successfully defended their autonomy over the years.
  • Looking at the enormous potential they have, they must strive to be models of all-round excellence such as the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology or CALTECH in the US.

Erosion of Democratic Space

  • Role of higher education in creating an institutional space for dialogue and liberal inquiry is well recognized.
  • Institutional capacity to maintain peace and democratic process plays a critical role in shaping the ethos of this site.
  • Over last few decades certain distinct signs of erosion of this space surfaced quite often in different parts of India.
  • The issue of geo-cultural diversities.
  • Idea is learn to acknowledge and appreciate differences and not try to homogenize everything.

Architecture of Learning

  • Currently, many students pass out from institutions of higher education without skills
  • Many students face are lack of ability to analyze or solve problems.
  • These problems can be addressed if the processes by which curriculum is designed.
  • Then, syllabi are determined undergo improvement.

Curriculum Issues and Syllabus Making

  • Need to ask what is the purpose of university, especially at the undergraduate level.
  • Use the answers to develop curriculum.
  • Design of curriculum and syllabi is reflective of the entrenched examination system.
  • New kind of institutional culture and ethos can be created in our general and professional colleges.
  • Mode of transmission is also generally quite poor in terms of its pedagogic quality.
  • Method of teaching and evaluation used are not conducive to improving the ability of students for abstract thinking.
  • Minimum set of occupational exposure compulsory for all students, irrespective of discipline.

Learning Across Disciplines

  • At present, much of our higher education is uni-disciplinary or within a narrow spread.
  • Specialization in a given discipline is only valuable.
  • It allows learner to link that discipline with real world and contextualize his/her own conceptions of life and its various phenomena.
  • Education involve inclusion of disciplines other than the student is studying, it is in the form of ‘subsidiary’ subjects.
  • Teaching and syllabi of these subjects, over a period of time also become poor in quality and motivation.
  • Hence, currently despite going through the motions there is no real learning across disciplines happening.

Teacher Education

  • Preparation of teachers for all levels of school education should be responsibility of institutions of higher education.
  • State governments manage the preparation of teachers for primary and pre-primary levels.
  • These levels recognized as being fundamental to the development of children.
  • Necessary to enhance the quality of teacher education within higher education.
  • Necessary to develop full-fledged orientation programmes for newly recruited teachers in colleges and universities.

Rehabilitating Professional Education in the University

  • Substantial damage has been done to universities and institutions of professional education by their separation from each other.
  • Pursuit of engineering and medicine, in particular, in colleges or institutes, which exist like islands.
  • Need for providing depth in specialization in specific knowledge areas.
  • This process has been trivialized.
  • Necessary that their curriculum framework is designed.
  • Vocational education sector is at present outside the purview of universities and colleges.
  • Setting up of a skill-development council at Central level, is a positive step in this direction.

Undermining Undergraduate Education

  • The undergraduate years mostly remained in the precinct of affiliated colleges.
  • There is no such provision for the university faculty to serve in colleges.
  • Indian university system perpetuated source of its own intellectual malnourishment.
  • In all great universities of the world we know of, great teachers, even Nobel Laureates, prefer to teach undergraduate students.
  • Mandatory for all universities to have a rich undergraduate program and students must get opportunities to interact with best faculty.

Performance Criteria

  • Setting up of certain performance criteria.
  • It is a common device for infusing accountability in an organization.
  • Such device particularly useful for institutions, which are expected to work in an autonomous manner.
  • Need to evolve certain performance criteria on the basis of which universities can assess themselves.
  • It can be assessed by others in a transparent manner.
  • Criteria of this kind are convenient to use.
  • Three parameters for evolving performance criteria:
    • Socio-cultural aims of higher education
    • Academic excellence
    • Institutional self-reform
  • Constitution of India offers a framework for aims of education.

Structure, Expansion and Access

  • There has been a rapid expansion of the higher education system.
  • It has been mainly through private investments.
  • Large number of colleges and university-level institutions come into existence in recent years.
  • Implications of increasing trend towards privatization of higher education need to be understood.

State Universities and Affiliated Colleges

  • State universities are still backbone of higher education in India.
  • State universities, meant to be the responsibility of State Governments to maintain and develop.
  • State Universities are primarily responsibility of States.
  • To achieve this state governments would need to significantly enhance their support to the universities.
  • Current structure of the Indian university system has a large number of affiliated colleges associated with either a Central or State university.
  • This structure burdened many universities.
  • Qualitative development of these colleges should be our priority.
  • Initiative by central government to create more central facilities in the field of higher education.
  • Under performance of the state universities has a direct relation to their size.
  • Optimum size of university has not only quantitative but also a qualitative dimension.

Growth of Private Commercial Providers

  • Absence of any significant expansion in different sectors of higher education by the state created a space for the growth of private providers.
  • There has been no policy or guidelines to measure the competence of private investors in starting.
  • The trusts or societies that have been formed largely.
  • Many respectable institutions established by private individuals or corporations.
  • There is a need to have clear understanding of the difference in the roles of a promoter or philanthropist as a trustee.
  • Executives must have appropriate abilities and qualifications required for the job.
  • Private initiatives in the field of higher education are not driven by the sole motive of profit.

Mushrooming of ‘Deemed’ Universities

  • Sudden spurt in the number of newly established educational institutes as deemed universities is another area of concern.
  • Some of the private institutions took deemed-to-be university route to get degree-granting powers.
  • As per UGC, it is no longer necessary for them to use the adjective “deemed” and they all call themselves simply universities.
  • Provision for status of deemed universities was made with a noble intent.
  • In the last 15 years, 63 institutions were declared deemed universities.
  • Particularly in last 5 years, 36 institutions, excluding RECs, notified as deemed universities.

Issues of Affordability

  • Many private institutions charge exorbitant fees and are unable to provide even minimum competent faculty strength.
  • Non-affordability of the programmers of such institutions to a vast majority of eligible students is a matter of public concern.
  • Norms for fixation of fees are vague.
  • Quantum of fees charged has no rational basis.
  • Institutional funding can then be for capital costs and research and based on worthiness of the institution.

Foreign Universities

  • Universities grow in organic connection with their social, cultural and geographical surroundings.
  • Before taking any decision on allowing foreign universities to operate in India we have to be very clear about the purpose it is going is achieve.
  • If the best of foreign universities, say amongst the top 200 in the world, want to come here and work, they should be welcomed.
  • Such institutions should give an Indian Degree and be subject to all rules and regulations that would apply to any Indian University.

Resource Management and Financing


  • It may be recognized that the cost of providing quality education is increasing.
  • Universities require constant infusion of resources to maintain and upgrade their facilities, resources and technologies.
  • Universities are expected to raise their own resources.
  • Changes in regulatory systems are required to encourage philanthropy from society.
  • Alumni of the Institute of Technology at BHU recently built a guesthouse of the university.
  • Alumni at IITs and IIMs also created resources for their alma mater.
  • Funding to universities is inadequate, irregular and inflexible.
  • Release of funds annually is leading to delay in implementation of plans and is an intrusion in the autonomy of the institution.

Human Resource Development

  • Urgent measures needed to bring such people who enjoy teaching and research back to university.
  • Irrespective of the checks and balances one may place on a regulatory system.
  • Best and brightest in India are no longer aspiring to become teachers.
  • Constraints from funding agency had led universities to stop recruitment of faculty even on approved positions.
  • Retired academics re-hired to teach and are paid meagerly for each session.
  • Quality of teaching is best indicator and key determinant of overall quality of institutional life.

Governance and Autonomy

  • Autonomy is arguably lifeline of any institution.
  • That deals with education, creation of knowledge and learning of all kinds.
  • Need for governance structures, ensure the preservation of such autonomy under all circumstances.

Poor Governance of Universities

  • Universities remain one of most under-managed organizations in our society.
  • Hard rules framed for past era still dominate rather than soft-processes and collegial consensus making.
  • These may have been direct outcomes of low autonomy & low management skills amongst administrators
  • There is an urgent need to improve governance by developing expertise in “Educational management” .
  • Separation between academic administration & overall management (including fund-raising) may be desirable.
  • Necessary for many state governments to abandon trend of appointing of civil servants as university administrators.

Interference in University Functioning: Loss of Autonomy

  • Interference from various political or commercial vested interests in functioning.
  • Priorities of the universities comes in many different forms and intensities.
  • Making a cursory review of the quality of Indian institutions by whatever yardstick one may choose.
  • Autonomy is available to these institutions with the guidance and support of such governing bodies.
  • University system in India is subjected to harsh criticism.
  • It would be worthwhile to examine underlying processes that influence functioning of our universities.
  • Absence of academic and administrative autonomy, introduces high degree of educational & social distortion.

Subversion from Within

  • Blaming private initiative, political interference and other forces for loss of autonomy of universities is not sufficient.
  • Subversion ranges from matters of policy implementation to appointments and day to day functioning of institutions.
  • There is a need for deep introspection by academia on the origins.
  • Education made subservient to ideological compulsions which led to its loss of respect.
  • Independence of scholarship from power has often been put to test and regrettably academic community has, on most crucial occasions failed.

Multiplicity of Regulatory Systems

  • Responsibility to establish & monitor performance of this large variety of institutions exercised by many different statutory regulatory bodies as well as governments and universities.
  • It leading to multiplicity of authorities and duplication of inspection and control.
  • Need for stimulating innovations of curricula, experimenting with approaches to teaching and learning.
  • Establishing meaningful links with society have rarely been emphasized.
  • Well-designed regulatory system will help to promote high degree of professionalism in managing higher education institutions.
  • Important to design balanced and all-encompassing regulatory mechanism.
  • Idea of single regulatory body for higher education has been in discussion for more than two decades.

Recovering Idea of University: A Roadmap

  • Apart from various short-term issues there is a serious threat to very idea of university and its values of knowledge generation in our society today.
  • Report is making definitive recommendations pertaining to overall structure of the system of higher education in India.
  • Implementation of our prescription worked out by institutions of higher education themselves.

A New Regulatory Framework

  • Holistic view of knowledge would demand a regulatory system.
  • Treats the entire range of educational institutions in a holistic manner.
  • All of higher education has to be treated as an integrated whole.
  • Professional education cannot be detached from general education.
  • National Policy of Education (1986) & Plan of Action, 1992 envisaged the establishment of a national apex body for bringing about greater co-ordination and integration in planning and development of higher education system which would include research.
  • UGC performed its overarching function of steering higher education in this country.
  • Presently, there are 13 such professional Councils created under various Acts of Parliament.
  • Academic functions of all these professional bodies, be subsumed under an apex body for Higher Education, called The National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) .
  • NCHER would perform its regulatory function without interfering with academic freedom and institutional autonomy.
  • Other states can be encouraged, through appropriate incentives, to establish such bodies.

Objectives of the ‘the National Commission for Higher Education and Research’ (NCHER)

  • Be responsible for comprehensive, holistic evolution of HE sector
  • Strategize and Steer the expansion of higher education
  • Ensure autonomy of the universities
  • Acts as a catalyst
  • Spearhead continuous reforms and renovation in the area of higher education.
  • Establish robust global connectivity and make it globally competitive.
  • Promote greater engagement and enhancing resources to State universities.
  • Ensure good governance, transparency and quality in higher education.
  • Connect with industry and other economic sectors to promote innovations.
  • Devise mechanisms for social audit processes and public feedback on its performance and its achievements.

Restructuring Universities

  • Foundational principle on which Indian universities need to be restructured.
  • Complete autonomy of institutions of higher learning is essential for free pursuit of knowledge.
  • Universities will also have vibrant research areas, not oriented towards any particular department, but built around thematic concerns.
  • Increasing involvement of Higher Education Institutions and Universities in long drawn out litigation in judicial courts is also a matter of deep concern.
  • Universities need autonomy to operate in healthy competitive setting.
  • Governance structure of university revamped so as to make them more democratic and efficient in their functioning.
  • Universities should also be able to employ professional fund-raisers.
  • One obstacle today is the lack of any trust about proper utilization of donation or beneficial use of money.
  • In order to achieve autonomy, Indian institutions of higher learning need to:
  • Be freed from control of both government and ‘for-profit’ private agencies.
  • Collectively frame for themselves a transparent set of rules to guide their regular functioning.
  • Foster culture of independent assertion of ideas
  • Guard institutional prerogatives from external interference, transparency and accountability for decisions taken.

Agenda for Action

  • Create all-encompassing NCHER, a Constitutional body to replace the existing regulatory bodies including UGC, AICTE, NCTE and DEC.
  • To follow up Constitutional amendment with an appropriate law for Commission՚s functioning.
  • Universities to be made responsible regarding academic content of all professional courses and programmes of study.
  • Curricular reform to be the topmost priority of the newly created NCHER.
  • It should be mandatory for all universities to have a rich undergraduate program and students must get opportunities to interact with best faculty.
  • Undergraduate programs to be restructured.
  • Vocational education sector is at present outside the purview of universities and colleges.
  • NCHER galvanize research in university system through creation of National Research Foundation.
  • New governing structures to be evolved.
  • Practice of according status of deemed university be stopped forthwith till the NCHER takes considered view on it.
  • Modern higher education system requires:
    • extension facilities
    • sophisticated equipment and highly specialized knowledge
    • competent teachers
  • Institutions of excellence like IITs and IIMs to be encouraged to diversify and expand their scope to work.
  • First task of NCHER should be to identify best 1,500 colleges across India to upgrade them as universities.
  • Universities to establish live relationship with the real world outside.
  • Develop capacities to respond to challenges faced by rural and urban economies and culture.
  • All levels of teacher education to be brought under the purview of higher education.
  • A national testing scheme.
  • Quantum of Central financial support to State-funded universities enhanced.
  • Expansion of higher education system to be evaluated and assessed continuously.
  • Establish a National Education Tribunal with powers.
  • Set up a Task Force to follow up on the implementation of this Agenda for Action within a definite time-frame.

Basic Elements of New Organization of Our Higher Education

  • Recognition that university should encompass all disciplines and their interfaces.
  • Curriculum framework should recognize outside world and go across boundaries of disciplines.
  • All higher education institutions should move in this direction.
  • Higher education institutions need to be accredited and supported.
  • For this we need single Higher Education Commission (HEC) .
  • Self-renewing.
  • Appropriate autonomous councils for various areas.
  • Invite proposals from all universities.
  • Distribute available resources, preferably as block grants.
  • Inspections and monitoring would be reduced drastically.
  • Accredited universities would be respected.
  • Provide interface between HEC and universities.
  • These accredited universities would be charged with responsibility of setting up and developing components and colleges in their areas of operation.
  • Set up by PM with advice of large academic college to be chosen in an appropriate way.
  • HEC should play a catalytic role for interaction between different subject areas and different departments, institutions, universities, both public and private.

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