The HECI (Higher Education Council of India) as proposed in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, might soon become a reality. HECI is proposed in the NEP 2020 to be a single regulatory body for Higher Education.
Union Education and Skill Development Minister Dharmendra Pradhan recently held an extensive consultation on taking further steps for the formulation of Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).
During the meeting, Pradhan said that HECI should ensure employability, job creation and a global outlook. It should ensure global academic standards and provide more academic autonomy to higher education institutions.
He further said that this important recommendation of NEP-2020 will be one of the many steps in the direction of decolonization of the education system of the country.
The NEP 2020 proposed that HECI can be an overarching umbrella for the guidance of all the higher education institutions in the country.
What is HECI?
According to the draft of the NEP 2020 the regulatory system of higher education will ensure that the distinct functions of regulation, accreditation, funding, and academic standard setting will be performed by distinct, independent, and empowered bodies.
This is considered essential to create checks and balances in the system, minimize conflicts of interest, and eliminate concentrations of power. To ensure that the four institutional structures carrying out these four essential functions work independently yet at the same time and work in synergy towards common goals. These four structures will be set up as four independent verticals within one umbrella institution, the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).
For the purpose of the regulation, the NEP 2020 proposes the National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC). It will function as the common, single point regulator for the higher education sector including teacher education and excluding medical and legal education, thus eliminating the duplication and disjunction of regulatory efforts by the multiple regulatory agencies that exist at the current time.
For the purpose of accreditation, the NEP 2020 proposes the second vertical of HECI called the National Accreditation Council (NAC). Accreditation of institutions will be based primarily on basic norms, public self-disclosure, good governance, and outcomes, and it will be carried out by an independent ecosystem of accrediting institutions supervised and overseen by NAC.
According to the NEP, 2020 third vertical of HECI will be the Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC), which will carry out funding and financing of higher education based on transparent criteria. HEGC will be entrusted
with the disbursement of scholarships and developmental funds for launching new focus areas and expanding quality programme offerings at HEIs across disciplines and fields.
The fourth vertical of HECI as proposed in the NEP 2020 will be the General Education Council (GEC), which will frame expected learning outcomes for higher education programmes, also referred to as ‘graduate attributes.’ A National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF) will be formulated by the GEC and it shall be in sync with the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) to ease the integration of vocational education into higher education. Higher education qualifications leading
to a degree/diploma/certificate shall be described by the NHEQF in terms of such learning outcomes. In addition, the GEC shall set up facilitative norms for issues, such as credit transfer, equivalence, etc., through the NHEQF.
The GEC will be mandated to identify specific skills that students must acquire during their academic programmes, with the aim of preparing well-rounded learners with 21st-century skills.