Focus on Quality and Research
The RUSA focuses on better quality of state higher education institutions. The aim is to achieve mass access to higher education with high quality standards. States must ensure that all their institutions adopt NAAC accreditation as the mandatory quality assurance framework, and simultaneously seek to upgrade the overall academic quality by implementing reforms.They will be encouraged to promote research and innovation in their institutions. Since research focus can be judged both from input efforts and outcome indicators, the SHEPS are expected to have a balanced appreciation of both aspects. States and institutions are expected to honestly declare their present status in this area and outline specific strategies for improvement, including the use of information and communications technologies (ICT). There is a need to improve resource allocation for universities to enable good quality research and innovation. Criteria such as the number of research publications, impact factors of journals in which papers are published, citations, the amount of research funding attracted, etc., should be considered for faculty promotions.
Norm-based and Outcome-dependent Funding
The cornerstone around which RUSA is designed is that funding under it is norm based and future grants are outcome dependent. The central funding is strategic and based on SHEPs, which serve as a benchmark against which the performance of a state and its institutions is graded. Future funding is decided on the basis of past achievements and utilization of funds submitted to MHRD.
Incentivizing and Disincentivizing
RUSA incentivizes and disincentivizes state actions. Not only is compliance to rules, regulations and fulfilment of norms supported by incentives, but non-performance or non-fulfilment of prerequisites and norms invites reduced allocations for states and institutions. This is intended to make the scheme not only demand driven, but also competitive. States and institutions are encouraged to compete with each other in order to reap the benefits of competition-based formulaic grants.
Apolitical Decision Making
Another basic tenet of RUSA is that the decision making is done in an unbiased, apolitical and professional manner, on the basis of the SHEPs and the performance of the states on the predefined parameters. The process of decision making and its result are transparent and the methods impartial. It is expected that the states would also be as unbiased, apolitical and professional while planning and ushering governance reforms at their level. In order to effectively implement these reforms, the selection of leadership positions in state universities should take into account the imperatives of merit and performance
Autonomy Autonomy is an indispensable condition for quality and accountability. RUSA envisages greater autonomy for institutions in terms of decision making. The institutions will have full liberty to plan specific interventions depending on their special needs and requirements. Some key concerns in enforcement of university autonomy are as follows:
Revisiting the acts: There is a need to revisit the acts of various state universities to see if there are some clauses detrimental to their autonomy.
Streamlining the recruitment process: Universities must have the autonomy to recruit the most competent faculty as per laid-down procedures and purely on the basis of merit.
Membership of governing bodies: A university is administered by its senior functionaries under the guidance of its statutory bodies such as the executive committee, syndicate, senate, etc. The persons to be nominated to these bodies must have specialized knowledge in the relevant disciplines and should not have conflict of interests in so far as decision making in the university is concerned. These bodies should predominantly consist of members from academic background.
Institutional leadership: It is the duty of the Vice Chancellor to safeguard the autonomy of the university. The increasing trend of appointing civil servants as heads of educational institutions needs to be reviewed. Special RUSA orientation programmes or conferences on the management of universities should be organized to enable the Vice Chancellors, Directors, Pro-Vice Chancellors, Deans and Heads of Departments to hone their management skills.
Disclosure based governance must be followed by institutions with regard to their decisions and outcomes. RUSA envisages greater participation of all stakeholders, where the institutions are responsible for their quality not just to the regulatory authorities but also to the students, parents and the society. A policy of full disclosure and clean governance is the first step towards establishing such a system of higher education.
Equity – based development initiatives must form an essential part of any development or expansion plans, both at the state and institution levels. Any growth in the higher education sector must create equal opportunities for women, disadvantaged classes and the differently abled. Also, development must have a greater focus on serving the rural and tribal areas. The plan appraisal process would take this aspect into account while deciding the allocations. Well-calibrated equity strategies must be built into the entire state planning process.