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Wood's Despatch

a scheme to establish universities was to be formulated, whose functions were to

hold examinations and corder degrees. The despatch also recommended that a
number of high schools should-be set up4. This eventually led to the establishment
in the country of the first three universities in 1857
The Hunter Commission report
Commission, inter alia, recommended the gradual withdrawal of the State from the
direct support and management of institutions of higher education. With regard to
vocational and technical education, the Commission recommended that in the
class of high schools there should be two avenues, one leading to the entrance
examination of the University and the other of a more practical character intended
to fit
the youth for commercial, vocational and non-literary pursuits.
Role of universities in a nation

Central function, responsibility or goal of university is to educate people to work

effectively in an increasingly technological world that is, to provide the technical
skills needed for a growing number of jobs and professions that require
sophisticated knowledge and an education that instills the ability to think critically.
Universities have a significant role in giving a nation its economic vitality, scientific
prowess, a broad outline of social change and global competitiveness, through
innovation and research. In India the problem is more of employability, than of
unemployment. The skills that people have are not appropriate for securing
employment. Universities are centers of learning and have always been places
where the skills and knowledge of students are chiseled to suit the requirements of
the work places. Need of the hour is that our universities assess well in advance and
structure courses in a manner that will help their students enter the employment
market, prepared for jobs available.

This function has become more complex and variegated, ranging from general
education for undergraduates to advanced doctoral instruction and supervision in
the most specialized fields.
Research is the other core function of universities,
institutions for national development.

universities have provided vocational education and training for the top professions,
thus developing a direct long-term link to the economy and to the practical needs of
Universities almost everywhere have become key creative institutions. Many professors, in addition to their
teaching and research, involve themselves in the intellectual life of society as commentators, experts or analysts.
Some are public intellectuals.
The tremendous creativity of the Enlightenment and the
technological innovations of the Industrial Revolution
largely took place outside of the universities. The idea that
universities were truly ivory towers designed to be separate from society, unwilling to open their doors to the
emerging middle classes, meant that universities were
largely uninvolved in the dynamic scientific and political
developments of the era.
Universities received little public financial support because
they were not perceived as contributing significantly to
society. Napoleon, for example, was so unimpressed with
the French universities of the ancien rgime that he abolished all of them and replaced them with the vocationally oriented grandes coles.
Towards the end of the
19th century, American land grants expanded the research
university concept to include the role of direct service to
society and the key function of engagement with agriculture and industry. These developments, pioneered in Germany and the USA, spread elsewhere and brought
universities back to the centre of society. Since the early
20th century, universities or university-related laboratories have been involved in key scientific and intellectual
developments in most countries. The development of
radar, atomic energy and many pharmaceuticals illustrates this point.

basic educational issues are political and can be decided only through political instruments; the
ultimate responsibility for the creation of the national education system falls on the political
system; and if the political parties do not accept it, no one else can and will. Here, a two-fold
action is called for. The first is the positive action of the political parties evolving their own
policies in education and implementing them through Government. This needs a continuous
dialogue between politicians and educationists and the development of educational 'think-tanks'
and cadres in each party. On the negative side, politicians should realize the great damage they
are doing to the education system through their interference in establishment and control of
educational institutions, appointments and transfer of teachers and other personnel, grant-in-aid,

and in all other possible form merely to serve their appetite for patronage and to strengthen their
political base. The chaotic conditions in some of our universities are a sad proof of what this
interference has led to. The present relationship in education between academics and politicians
is very unsatisfactory. The academic desires for full political support without any political
interference; and what the politician gives is full political interference without any political
support worth the name. What we must evolve is a new tradition of full political support and
legitimate political control which does not interfere with the genuine academic freedom of
educational institutions and teachers. This is a long way to go in which both educationists and
academics will have to modify their present positions considerably and learn to work together.

In Higher Education, NKC has focused on the three

crucial aspects of expansion, excellence and inclusion.
There are about 350 odd universities and 18,000
colleges providing higher education in the country, to
about 10% of the relevant age group. This is extremely
inadequate in a country where the demographic
dividend by way of a young population of about 550
million youth, is a much talked about asset. If we are
to achieve a Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 15%
and above by 2015, we need to substantially increase
the number of higher education institutions (HEIs)
in our country. While this expansion will have to be
achieved in part through increased public spending on
higher education, it will also require diversifying the
sources of fi nancing to encourage private participation,
philanthropic contributions and industry linkages. To
this end, the current barriers to entry in setting up HEIs
are very high relying primarily on legislation. NKCs
recommendation to set up an Independent Regulatory
Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE), at an arms
length from all stakeholders, that would accord degree
granting power to universities, is one way to supplement
the process of setting up universities through legislation.
The regulator would also be responsible for monitoring
standards and settling disputes. This will streamline

regulation of higher education in the country which at

present is marked by a multiplicity of regulators, often
with overlapping mandates. A plethora of regulations
without adequate autonomy or accountability for
institutions has resulted in a system that is over regulated
and under governed.
To ensure quality NKC has called for
reform of existing universities including frequent
curricula revisions, introduction of course credit
system, enhancing reliance on internal assessment,
encouraging research, and reforming governance
of institutions. Further, there is an urgent need to
restructure the system of affiliated undergraduate
colleges which no longer provides a viable model
for quality higher education. Creating more
department based unitary universities and giving
greater autonomy to existing institutions should be
explored. Instead of a single accreditation agency
created with state monopoly, multiple accreditation
agencies maybe licensed by the IRAHE to do the
ratings. Backed by stringent information disclosure
norms, this would empower students with reliable
information and would be a mechanism for ensuring
accountability. Quality may also be enhanced through
upgradation of infrastructure, attracting and retaining
talented faculty through introducing salary differentials,
greater research opportunities, faculty exchange
programmes etc
NKC believes that all deserving students should have
access to higher education, irrespective of their socio-

economic background. While the government heavily

subsidizes university education by keeping fees low,
there is better value created for this subsidization by
ensuring well funded scholarships and affirmative
action that takes into account the multi dimensionality
of deprivation
Diversifying career opportunities in Science:
increasing attractiveness of existing careers
and generating new opportunities through
collaborations between industry, universities and
research institutes.
Provide flexibility to universities to raise fees
accompanied by scholarships, fellowships and
student loans
Create more universities expanding to around 1500
universities nationwide, to enable India to attain a
gross enrolment ratio of at least 15% by 2015
eform existing universities to ensure curricula
revisions, introduce course credit system, enhance
reliance on internal assessment, encourage
research, reform governance etc.

Restructure the system of affiliated undergraduate


Curriculum Development
Curriculum should be made contemporary, integrated
with other disciplines ensuring regular feedback from
stakeholders. Autonomy may be granted to universities,
National Law Schools (NLSUs) and other law schools

to decide the core and optional courses to be offered.

This is a departure from current practice where the BCI
largely determines curricula and syllabi. A committee
should be formed that includes faculty and practitioners
and seeks student feedback to discuss curricula, syllabi
and reading material of all core and optional courses,
and devise a model syllabus for all core and optional
courses. Law schools and universities would be free to
use and depart from the model syllabus.
Law teaching must be interwoven with related
contemporary issues, including international and
comparative law perspectives. The curricula and
syllabi must be based in a multidisciplinary body of
social science and scientific knowledge. Curriculum
development should include expanding the domain
of optional courses, providing deeper understanding
of professional ethics, modernizing clinic courses,
mainstreaming legal aid programmes and developing
innovative pedagogic methods
Legal education
must also be socially engaged and sensitize students
on issues of social justice

Examination System
The prevailing examination systems may be revised
and evaluation methods be developed that test
critical reasoning by encouraging essential analytical,
writing and communication skills. The end-semester
examination should be problem-oriented, combining
theoretical and problem oriented approaches rather
than merely test memory. Project papers, project and
subject viva, along with an end-semester examination

to be considered as pedagogic methods imperative for

improving quality

Developing a Research Tradition

in Law Schools and Universities
Creating a tradition of research in law schools and
universities is imperative if India has to transform
itself from being only a consumer of available legal
knowledge to being a leading producer in the world
of new legal knowledge and ideas. The following
measures are required to develop such a serious
culture of research: emphasizing analytical writing
skills and research methodology as integral aspects of
the LL.B programme; creating excellent infrastructure
(including research friendly library facilities,
availability of computers and Internet; digitization of
case law; access to latest journals and legal databases

Dispatch of 1854
Indian education is marked by Sir Charles
Wood's epoch-making Dispatch of 1854, which led to (1) the
creation of a separate
department for the administration of education in each
province, (2) the founding of
the universities of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras in 1857, and
(3) the introduction of
a system of grants-in-aid. Even when the administration of
India passed from the
East India Company into the hands of the British crown in
1858, Britain's secretary of

state for India confirmed the educational policy of Wood's

The newly established universities did not initially undertake any teaching
responsibilities but were merely examining bodies. Their expenses were confined to
administration and could be met from the fees paid by the candidates for their
degrees and certificates. The then existing 27 colleges were affiliated to these three
universities. Later on more universities were established. At the time of
independence in 1947, there were 19 universities and several hundred affiliated
colleges (CABE, 2005).
There has been an appreciable growth in the number of universities and
colleges in India since independence from 25 and 700 in 1947 to 354 and 17625
in 2005. The total enrolment increased from a meager 0.1 million in 1947 to
10.48 million in 2005 resulting in twelve fold increase in number of university

There are significant differences in their mandate, powers and functions. The
councils have rules and regulations of their own. There is large overlap of their
functions with the functions of the UGC, other professional councils and even
function of universities in some cases. In five cases, namely - Medical Council of
India, Pharmacy Council of India, All India Council for Technical Education, Indian
Nursing Council and the Bar Council of India, there are also State Councils; and
there are overlaps in functions of the national councils and state councils.