Evolution of higher learning and research in Post Independence India

Higher Education System in India

If you are preparing for the UGC NET examination you need to keep eye on recent happening in the Higher Education System space. It has been seen that most of the time question was asked based on some factual data & new adaptation or changes in policy. If we talk about the syllabus of (UGC) NET Paper 1 Higher Education System section for paper 1 questions were lies in one of the following sectors.

So it’s important to have basic ideas about the following topics:-

  • Understanding of organization and governance in higher education. (Different types of colleges and universities )
  • Various institutions of higher education.
  • Higher education governance, administration, and educational politics.( NEW EDUCATION POLICY)
  • Specific organisational policy goals and implementation(UGC,NAAC,AICTE)
  • Changing organisations and systems.( Recent Changes)

Heads up! This topic needs your attention, as the topic is very vast and you will always find surprising questions based on this unit.

Click on the below links for complete notes of the Higher Education System, Solved Question-based on this unit are also covered to check your progress at the end.

Some other important topics which are interrelated to the above-

We have curated the list of important present govt. a scheme that aims at providing a better India either by a central, state-specific, or joint collaboration between the Center and the states govt.

Please feel free to comment and provide feedback in case you need more details to be added.

After the completion of this article, you will be able to –

  1. To understand the concept of higher learning and research in Post Independence India
  2. To understand the role of the Department of Higher Education
  3. To grasp the significance of the UGC & Higher Education Regulatory Framework
  4. List of the Regulatory and Statutory Bodies in India( Total-15)
  5. You will be able to answer Questions based on the higher education system.
  6. To know the challenges of New Education Policy & Higher Education.

so let’s have look at some important topics & key facts based on the higher education system.

Evolution of higher learning and research in Post Independence India.

India has always been identified as a knowledge hub since the beginning of human civilization. Indian higher education system has been witnessing metamorphic changes and challenges through the years, i.e., from the ancient Gurukul system to the modern technology-based learning system have changed the lives of millions of people.

  • This is evident from centers of learning which existed in the 7th century BC were the Buddhist monasteries and in the 3rd century AD Nalanda. Few of these centers were very large having several faculties. Invasions and disorder in the country have extinguished the ancient Indian education system.
  • The first college was set up in 1918 in Serampore in Bengal imparting western education in India. In 1857, three Central Universities of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras were set up, and 27 colleges were affiliated. In 1947, 19 Universities were there in India. (CABE, 2005).
  • The Higher education system in India has grown in a remarkable way after the post-independence period and become the largest Higher Education System in the world.
  • The Indian higher education system has developed its own system and structure. Since the Indian constitution provides for joint responsibility of the union and state government for the promotion of education.
  • The linkage between learning, research, and innovation within higher education is the key to the building of sustainable knowledge societies.
  • Based on the provisions for academic, administrative, and financial flexibility, there are different types of universities and institutions in the higher education system in the country
  • India has different Higher education institutions namely, central and state universities, unitary and affiliating universities, institutions of national importance, deemed to be universities, and open universities.
  • The central government via the University Grants Commission (UGC) or the AICTE provides support to various state-run universities. Universities in India functionally are multi-faculty universities, and single faculty universities (agricultural, technological, and medical universities) apart from the universities there are also institutions of national importance like IITs, and IIMs deemed to be universities (BITS, IISc).
  • The higher education system in the country is governed by multiple agencies with University Grant Commission (UGC) as the apex body.
  • The rule and regulations of these agencies make the higher education system more complex. The various stakeholders in the regulatory framework in the country are state governments, professional councils like University Grant Commission (UGC), the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), etc.

The growth of Higher education in India after post-independence is phenomenal. It is more than half a century ever since the government initiated a planned development of higher education in the country, particularly with the establishment of the University Grants Commission in 1953. During 1950 and 2012 the number of universities increased from 20 to about 659, colleges from 500 to 33023, and teachers from 15,000 to 9.46 lakhs.

Consequently, enrollment of students has increased from a mere 0.1 million in 1950 to 25.9 million. (Based on UGC Report 2012).

Let’s look back on the progress made so far…

Radhakrishnan Commission (1948-49)

  • The first major commission to study the state of the universities in India after independence was the Radhakrishnan Commission (also known as the University Education Commission) in 1948-49.
  • The Commission was appointed with the specific aim ‘to report on Indian University Education and suggest improvements and extensions that may be desirable to suit the present and future requirements of the country’.
  • A major chapter in the Radhakrishnan Commission report was devoted to the problem of the medium (language) of instruction at the university level.
  • The most significant recommendation of the Commission was that a University Grants Commission modeled on the University Grants Committee in Great Britain be set up as a liaison between the central
    government and the universities.
  • This last recommendation became a reality in 1956 when the University Grants Commission (UGC) was established by an act of Parliament that stated that “The Constitution of
    India vests Parliament with the exclusive authority in regard to coordination and determination of standards in institutions of higher education and research and scientific and technical institutions.”


Secondary education Commission ( Mudaliar Commission)-

The Secondary Education Commission was appointed by the Government of India Resolution on 23rd September 1952 under the Chairmanship of Dr. A. Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar, Vice-Chancellor, Madras University to examine the prevailing system of secondary education in the country.

  • it was aimed to suggest measures for its reorganization and improvement with reference to the aims, organization and content of secondary education, its relationship to primary and higher education, and the interrelation of secondary schools of different types.


Kothari Commission 1964

The Commission was appointed under the provision of a resolution of the Government of India, dated 14th July, 1964and it began its task on October 2, 1964.

  • The Commission included eminent educationists in diverse fields from India and abroad. It consisted of total 17 members, where 14 members, 1 member – secretary, 1 Associate – Secretary, and Dr. D.S. Kothari, chairman of the U.G.C. was appointed as the chairman of the commission. Therefore, it is also known as the Kothari Commission.
  • The Commission submitted its report to the Government on June 29, 1966. It was laid on the Table of the House on August 29, 1966.The report of the Commission is a voluminous document of about 700 pages. It has been hailed as referred for all change and reform in Education.
  • Although it is 20 years old, it maintains its fragrance and freshness. Even the new National Policy on Education (1986) has been mainly based on its recommendations. It is termed as Bible for Teachers and should be read with flair.

Ramamurthy Review Committee-

  • The committee to review the National Policy on Education 1986, was formed on 7 November 1990 with Acharya Ramamurthy as Chairman and sixteen others as members. This Committee‘s report bears the title ―Towards an Enlightened and Humane Society‖.
  • The Committee was appointed to review the National Policy on Education 1986 and make recommendations regarding the revision of the policy and action necessary for the implementation of the revised policy within a time frame.

Role of the Department of Higher Education

The Department of Higher Education, MHRD, is responsible for the overall development of the basic infrastructure of the Higher Education sector, both in terms of policy and planning. Under a planned development process, the Department looks after the expansion of access and qualitative improvement in Higher Education, through world-class Universities, Colleges, and other Institutions.

Role of the Department of Higher Education

  • Enhancement of Gross Enrollment Ratio by expanding access through all modes.
  • Promoting the participation of these sections of the society whose GER is lower than the national average.
  • To improve quality and to promote academic reforms
  • Setting up of new educational institutions and also capacity expansion and improvement of the existing institutions.
  • Use of Technology in Higher Education.
  • Development of Vocational Education and Skill Development.
  • Development of Indian Languages.
  • International Collaboration in the field of education.

[Source – http://mhrd.gov.in/overview ]

UGC & Higher Education Regulatory Framework

Soon after Independence, the University Education Commission was set up in 1948 under the Chairmanship of Dr. S Radhakrishnan “to report on Indian university education and suggest improvements and extensions that might be desirable to suit the present and future needs and aspirations of the country”.

It recommended that the University Grants Committee be reconstituted on the general model of the University Grants Commission of the United Kingdom with a full-time Chairman and other members to be appointed from amongst educationists of repute.

In 1952, the Union Government decided that all cases pertaining to the allocation of grants-in-aid from public funds to the Central Universities and other Universities and Institutions of higher learning might be referred to the University Grants Commission. Consequently, the University Grants Commission (UGC) was formally inaugurated by the late Shri Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the then Minister of Education, Natural Resources and Scientific Research on 28 December 1953.

The UGC, however, was formally established only in November 1956 as a statutory body of the Government of India through an Act of Parliament for the coordination, determination, and maintenance of standards of university education in India.

In order to ensure effective region-wise coverage throughout the country, the UGC has decentralized its operations by setting up six regional centers at Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bhopal, Guwahati, and Bangalore. The head office of the UGC is located at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg in New Delhi, with two additional bureaus operating from 35, Feroze Shah Road and the South Campus of the University of Delhi as well.

Read More About – University Grants Commission Act And Rules & Regulations Under The Act, 1956 – UGC ACT

Higher Education Regulatory Framework

Higher Education Regulatory Framework

Regulatory Structure of Higher Education in India


  • The regulatory framework of this sector in India is multi-layered. At the last chain of delivery – the classroom, three sets of regulations operate – University, College, and Council
  • Universities awarding their own degrees are classified into five types based on their management – Central universities, State universities, Private universities, Institutions-deemed-to-be-a-University, and institutes of National Importance. Colleges award degrees in the name of the university to which they are affiliated.
  • The University Grants Commission is a statutory organization established by an Act of Parliament in 1956 for the coordination, determination, and maintenance of standards of university education.
  • Apart from providing grants to eligible universities and colleges, the Commission also advises the Central and State Governments on the measures which are necessary for the development of Higher Education. It functions from New Delhi as well as its six Regional offices located in Bangalore, Bhopal, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Pune.
  • Different regulatory bodies such as the Medical Council of India (MCI), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), and the Bar Council India (BCI), among others, manage different professional courses. There are two accrediting institutions– namely the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) established by AICTE and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) established by UGC.
  • The main governing body at the tertiary sector is the University Grants Commission (UGC). It has a dual function of providing grants as well as coordinating and maintaining the standards of higher education institutes.
  • All public universities are governed by the UGC, as well as funded by it. The UGC Act of 1956 specifies the entire step-by-step administration of the University it governs, ranging from the number of working days to the number of lecture hours per subject, as well as the minimum qualification required for students to enroll and for teachers to teach a course.
  • UGC Regulations, 2012 mandate that all higher education institutions be accredited by an accreditation agency.
  • Powers and functions of UGC include allocation as well as disbursement of funds from the Central/State Government for development, maintenance as well as for research purposes, an inspection of universities, conferring of degrees, etcetera.
  • Central Government is responsible for major policies relating to higher education in the country. It provides grants to UGC and establishes central universities in the country. The Central Government is also responsible for the declaration of Education Institutions as ‘Deemed to be University’ on the recommendation of the UGC.
  • The special Constitutional responsibility of the Central Government: Education is on the ‘Concurrent list’ subject to Entry 66 in the Union List of the Constitution. This gives exclusive Legislative Power to the Central Govt. for coordination and determination of standards in institutions of higher education or research and scientific and technical institutions.
  • The coordination and cooperation between the Union and the States are brought about in the field of education through the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE).

Supporting the UGC, accreditation for higher learning over Universities is overseen by the following fifteen autonomous regulatory and statutory institutions:

List of the Regulatory and Statutory Bodies in India( Total-15)

Supporting the UGC, accreditation for higher learning over Universities is overseen by the following fifteen autonomous regulatory and statutory institutions:

Evolution of higher learning and research in Post Independence India | Updated

Higher Education Regulatory Body

To summarize, these above councils are responsible for the recognition of courses, promotion of professional institutions, regulating the course syllabus, and providing grants and other awards to various fields of education. These bodies play an important role in the setting up of an institution imparting a degree or diploma course in higher education.

Source – (The details of the list of Regulatory and Statutory Bodies in India have been taken from the UGC website itself. From time to time there is a change in Content we make the best possible effort to keep this page updated how ever time you may find it outdated – you can reference the UGC Website ). Covering all of them in a single post is beyond scope of this article so we have created a separate page on various Apex Bodies of Higher Education in India here –Important Higher Education Body[Short Notes]
The National Policy on Education, as formulated in 1986 and modified in 1992, has been the guiding document of the policies of the Central Government in the education sector for well over two decades. During this period, significant changes have taken place in India and the world at large.
Read more details at – New Education Policy

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