Vadodara: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has sought an allocation to the tune of Rs 1,84,784 crore in the 12th Five-Year Plan for "quality expansion" of the higher education, its chairman Ved Prakash said on Saturday.

"The UGC's thrust for the 12th five year plan is excellence and equity-driven expansion of the higher education in the 12th plan. UGC has chalked out an ambitious plan for improvement of the higher education," he said after addressing the 60th convocation of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda here on Saturday evening.

The allocation demanded by UGC is more than 4 times from Rs 46,632 crore in the 11th Five-year Plan, the UGC chairman said.

"We are preparing a document and the UGC would be entrusted with the task of revisiting existing schemes and programmes and identify the constraints. It (UGC) will then come up with new programmes that can be integrated into the new 12th Five Year Plan," Ved Prakash said.

Stressing that expansion is one of the biggest challenges before UGC, the chairman said the statutory organisation has to increase the number of universities and Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education.

"We are ensuring increased participation rates by girls, students from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, minority communities and Physically Handicapped," he said.

On GER and the role of the UGC, he said the implementation could be enhanced by different "permutations and combinations".

"We have to increase the intake of universities and will have to give additional financial assistance," Ved Prakash said, adding the UGC would also have to look around for profit areas and where there are inadequate higher education institutions. "In such places, we have to set up new institutions," the UGC chairman said, adding, "the Government of India has proposed to set up 1,543 public institutions which is unprecedented".

Adding that private players will also have to be taken on board, Ved Prakash said there should be a "harmonious coexistence" of public private partnerships (PPP).

He said there were many quality educational institutions that were set up by private bodies.

Besides conventional streams of knowledge, research and development in emerging areas like global warming, food security, agriculture and community health, will get prime focus, he added.

(Agencies)