Ministry of Human Resource Development plans to launch an ambitious ₹1.5 lakh crore action plan to improve the quality and accessibility of higher education over the next five years.

This is being described as the implementation plan for the National Education Policy. The last NEP was released in 1986, with a revision in 1992.

EQUIP project
The Ministry plans to launch EQUIP project.  EQUIP stands for the Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme and was crafted by ten committees led by experts within the government such as NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, principal scientific advisor K. Vijay Raghavan and former revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia, as well as some corporate chiefs.

The ten committees have drafted strategy to improve access to higher education, especially for underserved communities; improve the gross enrolment ration; improve teaching and learning processes; build educational infrastructure; improve the quality of research and innovation; use technology and online learning tools; and work on accreditation systems, governance structures and financing.

EQUIP project pic

Need for funds
Given that the last budget only allocated ₹37,461 crore to the higher education department, the EQUIP project will need to rely on extra-budgetary resources. The secretary said the Centre would mobilise money from the marketplace through the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA).

This would go beyond HEFA’s current ambit. The joint venture between the HRD Ministry and Canara Bank, set up in 2017, has been tasked with raising ₹1 lakh crore to finance infrastructure improvements in higher education by 2022. So far, projects worth ₹30,000 crore have been approved, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said in January.