Invest and benefit
A liberal system of grants can raise the calibre of S & T institutions, say two major scientific bodies
Move away from the practice of sub-optimal investments for improving quality and quantity in higher education. Take cue from other countries that make massive investments to fuel the growth of a knowledge-driven economy.
This is the crux of the recommendations of a joint report prepared by the Indian National Science Academy (New Delhi) and the Indian Academy of Sciences (Bangalore).
Their document, sent to the Planning Commission for the XI Five Year Plan, calls for investing Rs.7,300 crore and more during the plan period to establish new institutions, upgrade many existing institutions and provide incentive-based schemes to students, teachers, researchers and institutions.
A scheme was earlier started by the University Grants Commission to recognise Colleges of Excellence and to provide them additional grants of Rs. 30 lak-Rs. 50 lakh. This amount is too meagre to bring about any significant change in quality. Half of the projected investment should go as special assistance to 10 premier universities and upgrading State universities, besides enhanced assistance for 200 undergraduate colleges. Other recommendations include:
A one-time grant for 160 pure science colleges and 40 engineering colleges and recurring grant for upgrading laboratories for a particular timeframe.
A one-time grant of Rs. 2 crore and a three to four-fold increase in recurring grants (other than expenditure on salaries and administration) to improve the infrastructure, inter and intra-net facilities and libraries in undergraduate colleges.
Encourage interdisciplinary movement between Science & Technology streams and industrial R&D by establishing 20 engineering schools that admit students with a bachelor's degree in sciences for a two-year B.Tech.
Establishment of the three Inter-University facilities (IUCAA at Pune, NAC at New Delhi and the UGC-DAE Consortium for Scientific Research at Indore) is one of the successful UGC initiatives to upgrade science education and research.
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