The Tamil Nadu government has criticised the action taken to replace the University Grants Commission (UGC) with the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), a move that was proposed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development on June 27th. The ministry is in the process of seeking suggestions from educationalists, stakeholders, and the general public on the HECI bill.

In a strongly worded letter to Prime Minster Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister EK Palaniswami said that the existing arrangement with UGC, having both regulatory and financial power, is working in a transparent manner and is functioning satisfactorily. He further said that the government of Tamil Nadu sees no need to disrupt the current arrangement.

Under the new proposal, the letter states, the financial power will get transferred to the MHRD or some other central government body and going by the past precedence, the government of Tamil Nadu has not had good experience with such an arrangement. The letter states, “our experience of sanction of funds by various ministries based on merits to Tamil Nadu has not been very positive.”

TN Chief Minister sharing his draft letter to the Prime Minister

Highlighting the merits of UGC, Palaniswami said, “The UGC has the required capacity for objective evaluation of proposals received and to sanction funds in a transparent manner.” He added, “If this financial power is taken over by the MHRD, we apprehend that the funding pattern would change from 100 percent funding to 60:40 ratio between the Government of India and the state government.”

Citing these reasons, the letter states that the government of Tamil Nadu “strongly opposes the draft Bill on Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Act 2018 and request that the present institution of University Grants Commission may kindly be continued.”

The HECI bill (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act, 1956) aims to provide “more autonomy and facilitate holistic growth of the education system,” providing greater opportunities to the Indian students at more affordable cost, according the draft bill.