New Delhi: After failing to open 374 model degree colleges in backward districts across the country, the government is now exploring new ideas to improve higher education. On the lines of ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ the government is planning to launch a campaign that will improve higher education. Under this programme it will focus on opening degree colleges in districts.

According to sources, the University Grant Commission (UGC) has prepared a framework for the proposed National Higher Education Campaign. As per the proposal, the idea of opening 374 degree colleges in educationally backward districts launched during the 11th five –year plan will be merged with this new programme. Initiative to construct new universities will also be made.

Interestingly, according to the old plan the Centre was supposed to provide 1/3rd of the expenses for setting up of the colleges whereas the state bore 2/3rd of the cost. Built at an expense of Rs 8 crore the Centre only provided RS 2.66 crore as assistance putting the entire burden on the state as a result only 80 such colleges could be opened in the last five years.

This time the expenses sharing ratio can be 75:25 to be shared by the Central and state governments respectively. Whereas, the share ratio for those states accorded with special status may be 90:10.  However, the state governments will be solely responsible for allotting free land for the colleges.

The government is hopeful that this initiative would help in bridging the regional imbalance in higher education. Before finalizing the project, government will meet the higher education ministers of states on April 13 for discussions in this regard.

JPN/Bureau