A day-long All-India conference of higher education ministers on the Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) was held in Bangalore on 25 November 2013 to discuss major issues in higher education system of India. The conference offered a platform to bring up issues as well as their solutions to improve the status of higher education in states.
RUSA is the flagship scheme of the union government that focuses on state universities and institutions through a central plan, and the conference on RUSA brought together major stakeholders in higher education from various states. For most of the state representatives arrived at the conference, RUSA is a ray of hope to uplift higher education system within the state.
Poor status of higher education in the states of Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh was one of the grievances put up at the conference.
When discussed about the number of institutions for professional courses, Tripura boasts only three engineering and two medical colleges along with four polytechnics and one agricultural hall of ivy. The director of Tripura Higher Education, Bipradas Palit, said that around 60% of the area is covered by forests and there's a tedious process to follow to set up a college. We need at least two years just to get approval for the land. Moreover, the state government has to pay the market value for it. Only when this criterion is met we will be able to help the tribal and rural population and provide them higher education, said Palit.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the bottleneck in the growth of state higher education is a lack of fund. "We've been planning to come up with a state university, but it hasn't taken off due to lack of funds. The state has no engineering college and we're eager to upgrade one of the polytechnics," said Joram Begi, director, technical and higher education, Arunachal Pradesh.
The commissioner and secretary of higher education, Nagaland, FP Solo revealed another story, said that connectivity is the main issue here in state. Access remains a challenge and we'll need strategic plans to tackle it. Every state has its own challenge and RUSA should be customized to address it, said Solo.
Naxal-affected states, inferiority complex of state universities, parity in resource allocation and funds not being used wisely were other major issues pulled up at the meet.