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Public and private investment in higher education should be stepped up substantially and resources should be utilized optimally to scale capacity and improve quality, Union Minister for Human Resource Development Pallam Raju said on Monday.
"State investment on higher education should be raised to 25 percent from 18 percent of the budget on education or to 1.5 percent from 1.12 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as an increase of 0.38 percent means an additional spending of Rs.25,000 crore by the central and state governments," Raju said at a day-long all-India conference of higher education ministers here.
Referring to the 12th five-year plan (2012-17) thrust on higher education, Raju said under the new initiative in higher education - Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) - the government would provide greater autonomy to universities and colleges for equity-based development and improvement in teaching and research.
"We have proposed strategic funding of higher education to make a difference in the endowment for the sector in the states across the country," Raju said.
Highlighting the benefits of RUSA, Raju said about 300 universities and 8,500 colleges across the would be covered under the scheme with 90 percent of funding from the central government for most needy states like Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, northeastern states and Uttarakhand and 65 percent for other states and Union Territories.
Addressing the conference, Karnataka Minister for Higher Education R.V. Deshpande said the states should draw perspective plan to qualify for funding under RUSA as the scheme was an opportunity to set up more universities.
"RUSA funding should be used for introducing innovative projects in higher education. There should be more regular meetings and interaction between the central government and states to overcome hurdles in implementing the scheme," Deshpande observed.
In this context, Deshpande said the state had achieved a gross enrollment ratio of 26 percent in higher education.
"We seek more weightage in the funding under RUSA so that higher education in the state can reach newer heights in quality with learning eco-systems," Deshpande added.
Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Taroor, Minister of State for Primary Education Jatin Prasada and officials participated in the conference on the UPA government's flagship programme.