Budget has allocated Rs 400 crore for FY 2019-20 to create ‘World Class Institutions’ in the field of education which is more than three times the revised estimates for the previous year. Stating this while presenting the Budget 2019-20, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “The Government will also bring in a New National Education Policy to transform India’s higher education system to one of the global best education systems. The new Policy proposes major changes in both school and higher education among others, better Governance systems and brings greater focus on research and innovation.”
To achieve the objectives of research and innovation, the government will set up of a National Research Foundation (NRF) to fund, coordinate and promote research in the country. “NRF will ensure that the overall research eco-system in the country is strengthened with focus on identified thrust areas relevant to our national priorities and towards basic science without duplication of effort and expenditure,” the Minister explained. The funds available with all Ministries will be integrated in NRF and would be adequately supplemented with additional funds.
Nirmala Sitharaman also announced the ‘Study in India’ programme, which will focus on bringing foreign students to study in Indian higher educational institutions. The Finance Minister disclosed that a draft legislation for setting up Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) would be presented in the year ahead. This will help to comprehensively reform the regulatory system of higher education to promote greater autonomy and focus on better academic outcomes.
Highlighting the recent achievements, Nirmala Sitharaman said that while there was not a single Indian institution in the top 200 in the world university rankings five years back, there are three institutions now – two IITs and IISc Bangalore – in the top 200 bracket. This has been achieved due to concerted efforts by the institutions to boost their standards and also project their credentials better.
Giving further details, the Finance Minister said that massive online open courses through the SWAYAM initiative have helped bridge the digital divide for disadvantaged section of the student community. To up-grade the quality of teaching, the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) programme in higher education was started, aimed at tapping the global pool of scientists and researchers, she explained. The IMPRINT (IMPacting Research INnovation and Technology) scheme began as a pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative to develop a roadmap for research to solve major engineering and technology challenges in selected domains needed by the country. It is because of this that Higher Educational Institutions are now becoming the centres of innovation, the Minister said.