The government is finally set to endorse the higher education policy to guide university education in the country following continuous pressure from the University Grants Commission (UGC) and education experts.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) is all set to table the draft of the policy at the Cabinet for a final approval after getting a green signal from Ministry of Finance and National Planning Commission. Presenting a six-month progress report of the current fiscal year on Monday, Joint-Secretary at MoE Hari Lamsal said that all procedures for the policy have been cleared and will go into implementation once the Cabinet endorses it. Currently, there is no higher education policy to guide overall university education of the country. Nine universities and four deemed universities are running as per their own Act.
After a year-long discussion with stakeholders the UGC, six months ago, had tabled the policy draft at the MoE for approval. The policy envisions to covert the existing UGC into the Higher Education Commission that will work in coordination with the MoE to govern university education. There will a Quality Assurance and Accreditation Board to ensure the quality of education, under the recommendation of Higher Education Monitoring Board. It has also envisioned a separate National University Service Commission to recruit academic and non-academic staffs needed for the universities.
The policy also envisions for a National Curriculum Board to design and update the education curriculum and grant equivalence to mutual recognition of degrees and credit transfer. At present, only Tribhuvan University possesses the right to award equivalence of foreign degrees earned by students. “The higher education funds will at least be 10 percent, from existing 8 percent, of the total education funds,” reads the draft of the policy. “The government should also promote public private partnership in education at the university level to decrease the financial burden of the government.”
It has also set a target to increase the net enrolment at university level to 20 percent from the existing 17 percent, while students will get to enrol in universities on aptitude and merit basis. Those who cannot get through the aptitude will be allowed to join the programme run by Open University.
In addition, the policy has set a provision that any academic institution opened in Nepal with the affiliation of foreign universities must have 51 percent foreign investment in the initial phase and should be increased to 80 percent in five years.
The policy has also suggested that Nepali universities should be stopped from affiliating with colleges unless they run the programmes as their constituent programme. Pokhara and Purbanchal universities have been granting affiliation to various programmes even when they do not run them.