New Delhi: With Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman set to present the Union Budget for 2023-24 on February 1, the education sector has several expectations from the last full budget of the Narendra Modi government before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, as it looks forward to the implementation of several announcements made by the government in the past year. In an exclusive interview to ABP Live, University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Professor M Jagadesh Kumar spoke about the education budget expectations and new initiatives planned for the sector. He said the budget allocation is expected to be higher than it was last year.
Prof Kumar did not make any prediction in terms of budget allocation this year, saying the government has a certain amount of funds available that it has to spend in various areas, but said education is one of the most important sectors and the government is paying serious attention to it.
“During the last two years, there has been a massive effort by the academic communities, universities and colleges and the government to introduce a lot of reforms. For these reforms to be successful, we need to train teachers. We have 15 lakh teachers in the higher education sector and we also need to inject a lot of technologies into our educational processes. Therefore, I expect that the government, as it is doing every year, may continue to increase the allocation for the education sector,” he said.
Pointing out that there was a 6 to 7 percent increase in the allocation last year, compared to the previous year, Prof Kumar said: “I would expect a similar trend to happen this year also and much of these funds will be used for infrastructural development, for creating a better digital backbone for our higher education.”
He added: “Apart from these, the government recently announced the establishment of 200 channels — ‘One Subject One Channel’ — and all these require huge investments. Therefore, I expect the budget allocation to be higher than it was last year in the education sector.”
Education Reforms Expected In 2023
The UGC chairman said several major reforms are planned for 2023. Among them is the establishment of the National Digital University.
Talking about it, Prof Kumar said: “The work is in the advanced stages. Hopefully, by July 2023, we will start with certificate and diploma programmes.”
Another major reform in the pipeline, he said, is the National Credit Framework. “We will have much easier mobility to move from one discipline to another discipline, from one college to another college, and from one state to another state. The basic idea is to provide as much mobility as possible to provide flexibility to the students.”
The government is also set to announce deemed-to-be university regulations. “We are going to focus on governing structure of these universities and we are also going to introduce a new category of deemed-to-be universities. They are called distinct institutions and these may offer programmes, which are in the areas of national security, Indian civilisation, Indian ethos or highly specialised areas,” Prof Kumar said.
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