May 22, 2010

NCHER may include medicine, law

With the ordinance to dissolve the Medical Council of India being approved by the President, a case is being made for medical education to come under the purview of the proposed National Council for Higher Education and Research (NCHER).

Highly placed sources told that both Medicine and Law related education are likely to be placed under the purview of the NCHER which is set to subsume the multiple regulatory authorities like the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and University Grants Commission among others.

While both the Veerappa Moily-led Law ministry and the Azad-led Health Ministry have raised objections to allowing the NCHER to regulate Medicine and Law education, a new proposal is in the works offering the two ministries representation in the body. “There is a strong case for including Medicine and Law in the NCHER’s ambit. Discussions are on and a solution is to allow representatives of the two Ministries on the NCHER,” said a highly placed source.

The President’s address to Parliament when the UPA-II formed the government last year had given an assurance of creating a separate National Health Council for governing medical education. However, the above proposal embodying the same intent coupled with the corruption exposed in the MCI is reason enough to justify a policy shift, say sources.

Incidentally, noted academic Prof Yashpal, who headed the committee on Rejuvenation of Higher Education that recommended the setting up of the NCHER, had objected when the proposal to exclude Medicine from the NCHER's ambit was moved. He had said that excluding medical education would defeat the very purpose of setting up the body as it was meant to provide a single point authority on higher education.

The NCHER draft bill, meanwhile, has undergone several discussions also factoring in recommendations made by an expert task force set up by the Ministry on the issue. The Bill will now be taken up at the State Education Ministers' conference next month and then by the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) before being introduced in Parliament in the Monsoon Session.

The draft NCHER Bill proposes a national database of those eligible and qualified to be appointed as V-Cs or heads of educational institutes. The Commission will have seven members and a Chairman - all appointed by the President of India on the recommendations of a selection committee which will be headed by the Prime Minister and include the Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Minister in charge of higher education and minister in charge of medical education.

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