Budget 2021: FM proposes central university in Leh, legislation on Higher Education Commission, details on NEP rollout

The FM's Budget 2021 speech involved proposals on invigorating human capital with better access to education and skilling. Here are the key announcements related to the sector.
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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in her Budget 2021 speech that the legislation for setting up of the Higher Education Commission of India will be introduced this year. "It will be an umbrella body, having four separate vehicles for standard-setting, accreditation, regulation, and funding," she stated.

The proposal to set up the commission was made earlier in Budget 2019-20.

The finance minister proposed setting up a Central University in Leh "for accessible higher education in Ladakh."

The government also looks to bring about better synergies between educational and research institutions in the country and will set aside a grant for this.

Sitharaman stated, "Many of our cities have various research institutions, universities, and colleges supported by the Government of India. Hyderabad, for example, has about 40 such major institutions. In nine such cities, we will create formal umbrella structures so that these institutions can have better synergy, while also retaining their internal autonomy. A Glue Grant will be set aside for this purpose."

The FM also proposed amending the Apprenticeship Act to create more opportunities.

She said, "In 2016, we had launched the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme. The government proposes to amend the Apprenticeship Act with a view to further enhancing apprenticeship opportunities for our youth. We will realign the existing scheme of National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS) for providing post-education apprenticeship, training of graduates and diploma holders in engineering. Over Rs 3,000 crore will be provided for this."

"An initiative is underway in partnership with the UAE to benchmark skill qualifications, assessment, and certification, accompanied by the deployment of certified workforce. We also have a collaborative Training Inter Training Programme (TITP) between India and Japan to facilitate the transfer of Japanese industrial and vocational skills, technique, and knowledge," the finance minister added.

The finance minister further shared that the National Education Policy (NEP) announced in 2020 has met with "good reception."

As part of the initiative, more than 15,000 schools will be qualitatively strengthened to include all components of NEP 2020.

"They shall emerge as exemplar schools in their regions, handholding and mentoring other schools to achieve the ideals of the policy," she stated.

Besides this, 100 new Sainik Schools will be set up in partnership with NGOs, private schools, and states.

Reacting to the Budget, Zishaan Hayath, Founder and CEO, Toppr, said, "The goal to empower 15,000 schools is really promising. They can further mentor other schools in their region and help achieve NEP goals faster."

"With the future of education as hybrid, we believe that edtech companies can act as true allies to the government and education ecosystem as a whole. Technological interventions can multiply government investment manifold and accelerate the implementation of NEP goals, that is, focus on tracking and improving learning outcomes and holistic progress of students," he added.

For YourStory's multimedia coverage of Budget 2021, visit YourStory's Budget 2021 page or budget.yourstory.com

Edited by Suman Singh