Context: Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are among 14 States and Union Territories which are yet to sign a crucial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Union Education Ministry, which mandates the implementation of the National Education Policy in order to avail funds worth almost ₹13,000 crore for the next three years, under the Centre’s flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri- Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA) for State-run higher education.
About Pradhan Mantri- Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA)
Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) was a Centrally Sponsored Scheme to fund State/UTs institutions, with the vision to attain higher levels of access, equity, and excellence in the State higher education system with greater efficiency, transparency, accountability, and responsiveness.
The scheme’s first phase was launched in 2013 and the second phase was established in 2018. Now, in the light of the National Education Policy, the RUSA scheme has been launched as Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA).
- It covers government and government-aided institutions of the States and UTs.
Objectives of PM-USHA
- To improve the overall quality of existing state higher educational institutions by ensuring their conformity to prescribed norms and standards and adoption of accreditation as a quality assurance framework;
- Usher transformative reforms in the State higher education system by creating a facilitating institutional structure for planning and monitoring at the state level, promoting autonomy in State Universities, and improving governance in institutions;
- Implementation of recommendations of the NEP 2020 through funding support provided to State HEIs;
- Ensure governance, academic, and examination (and evaluation) reforms in the State higher educational institutions and establish backwards and forward linkages with school education on one hand and employment market, on the other hand, to facilitate self-reliance and thus create an Atma-Nirbhar Bharat;
- Create an enabling atmosphere in the higher educational institutions to devote themselves to research and innovations;
- Correct regional imbalances in access to higher education by facilitating access to high-quality institutions in urban & semi‐urban areas, creating opportunities for students from rural areas to get access to better quality institutions, and setting up institutions in unserved & underserved areas;
- Developing infrastructure for ODL/Online/Digital mode of education in such States/UTs;
- Improve equity in higher education by providing adequate opportunities for higher education to socially deprived communities; promote inclusion of women, minorities, SC/ST/OBCs, and special-abled persons;
- To identify and fill up the existing gaps in higher education, by augmenting and supporting the State Governments’ efforts;
- Enhancing employability through skilling and vocationalization;
- Improving the accreditation status of accredited institutions and getting accreditation of non-accredited institutions;
- Providing better hostel facilities in remote areas;
- Establishing New Model Degree Colleges in the districts where there are no Government and Government-aided institutions;
- Focusing on low GER, Left Wing Extremism (LWE), border area districts, aspirational districts and districts with higher SC/ ST populations; and
- Focus on multidisciplinary education, including STEM, commerce and humanities fields of education.