Govt may ‘EQUIP’ students with direct fee transfers

NEW DELHI: The Union government is looking at replacing fee subsidy across top educational institutes, like IITs, with direct transfers to students and is planning a national crowd-funding platform to assist students and institutions.

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A key proposal being considered is a nationwide movement—Each One, Teach One—exhorting each family to support at least one student. This donation movement will be operated on a national digital platform (modeled on the Vidyadhan portal) that will connect donors with students and institution. The target is to raise well over Rs 25,000 crore and support over 10 lakh students across disciplines based on clearly specified criteria to ensure full transparency.

These recommendations have come from the 10 expert groups, constituted by the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry, formed to give shape to a five-year project—Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme’ (EQUIP)—to revamp higher education. The groups were headed by the likes of former revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, principal scientific advisor K VijayRaghavan, Rediff founder Ajit Balakrishnan and former InfosysNSE 1.31 % CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan.

The PMO is learnt to be largely on board with the EQUIP project that is expected to be taken to the Cabinet and rolled out within the first 100 days of the government.

EQUIP also reflects several of the issues raised in the Draft National Education Policy released last week. The policy has also advocated a more hands off approach on fee regulation in both schools and higher education but with the caveat that institutes must ensure full financial disclosure and put in place comprehensive scholarship and policies to ensure students from disadvantaged sections are not deprived in any way.
EQUIP’s expert group on Higher Education Financing, chaired Gopalkrishnan, has recommended a massive government funding but wants to link it to students. It has called for fee rationalisation to raise standards and accountability at institutes but with equitable access options.

It has suggested that instead of subsidising the institute, say an IIT, for the education of students, the student’s tuition fee should be reimbursed directly to his account through direct benefit transfer. Other students should be given loans. It has called for full tax exemptions for donations to education to encourage philanthropy and alumni contributions. It suggests philanthropy offices to be set up at all institutes, better FCRA regimes for foreign donors and reduction or even waiver of GST on educational services....Read More>>>

Source: economictimes

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