Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has revealed plans to introduce the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) bill in Parliament, marking a significant stride in India’s education landscape. The primary objective of this bill is to establish a single higher education regulator, streamlining the complex regulatory framework. It’s noteworthy that law and medical colleges will not fall under its purview, acknowledging their unique requirements.
During an interview with news agency PTI, Minister Pradhan detailed HECI’s key roles, which encompass regulation, accreditation, and the definition of professional standards. In an important distinction, the fourth aspect, funding, will not come under HECI’s jurisdiction, with funding autonomy remaining with the administrative ministry.
Minister Pradhan stated, “We will bring the HECI bill in Parliament soon…after that also there will be standing committee scrutiny, but we have started comprehensive work for everything. There are three major verticals. First is regulatory role, which UGC (University Grants Commission) does…it has already started a lot of internal reforms at its level.”
HECI, as envisioned in the New National Education Policy (NEP), aims to replace the three major higher education regulators, including the University Grants Commission (UGC), which oversees non-technical higher education, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), responsible for technical education, and the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), the regulatory body for teacher education.
The concept of HECI has been in discussion since the introduction of a draft bill in 2018. This draft, seeking to repeal the University Grants Commission Act and establish the Higher Education Commission of India, was shared with the public for feedback and consultation. In 2021, the Union Education Minister took the initiative to solidify HECI’s role as the single higher education regulator, marking a significant step toward educational reform in India.