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Focus on expansion of higher education in 11th Plan: Thorat

Staff Reporter

“Higher education neglected in the last few decades”

— Photo: T. Singaravelou

PROUD MOMENT: Chief Minister N. Rangasamy handing over the degree to a student at the 18th convocation of Pondicherry University. Education Minister M.O.H.F. Shahjahan, UGC Chairman Sukhadeo Thorat and Vice Chancellor J.A.K. Tareen are in the picture.

PUDUCHERRY: Expanding the higher education system through establishment of new universities, increase in intake capacity with prime importance to inclusive education and quality would be the key areas of focus for higher education in the Eleventh Five Year Plan, Chairman of University Grants Commission (UGC) Sukhadeo Thorat said on Saturday.

Delivering the convocation address at the 18th convocation of Pondicherry University on Saturday, he said higher education has been neglected in the last few decades and certain issues need to be addressed immediately.

“In the early 50’s the enrolment ratio was less than one per cent. Today, it has increased to 10 per cent. Yet, this is low when compared to the world average of 23 per cent. Countries falling in the middle income group have a ratio of 35 to 37 per cent, while Europe and United States have over 40 per cent,” Mr. Thorat said.

Embarking on an ‘ambitious’ target, the UGC would aim to scale the enrolment ratio by five per cent in five years.

This would be achieved through increasing the number of educational institutions and the intake capacity of existing institutions, he pointed out.

Accordingly, 16 new Central universities at Rs. 50 crore and 14 universities of high academic standards at Rs. 60 crore would be established in five years.

“The Central government will start 370 model colleges in 370 districts which have low enrolment ratio than the national average,” he said.

Providing equal opportunity to all, particularly SC/ST/OBCs, girls, students from minorities especially Muslims, physically challenged and poor, would also be a key focus of the plan, he said, adding that this would be done through provision of scholarships, hostel facilities and remedial coaching for English.

“For this, we are increasing the funds for construction of hostels for women from Rs. 25 lakh to Rs. one crore,” he said.

The UGC has identified 90 districts with high proportion of Muslim population. “The universities and colleges here will get additional grants,” he told during a press conference.

One-time grant

Universities and colleges falling in the ‘C’ grade category would receive a one-time grant from the UGC to improve the quality.

“Nearly 70 State universities and 6,000 colleges do not receive UGC grants as they do not meet the minimum academic standards. We will also provide a one-time grant to these institutions,” Mr. Thorat said.

A total of 24, 278 degrees were awarded on the occasion which included 14, 758 bachelors and 2,604 master degrees. Around 118 gold medals were awarded.

Chief Minister N. Rangasamy, Education Minister M.O.H.F. Shahjahan, Member of Parliament M. Ramadass and Vice Chancellor of the University J.A.K. Tareen were present.

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