Aimed at encouraging research and teaching activities, the proposed 14 Innovation Universities is likely to get exemption from CAG audit, a privilege currently enjoyed by institutions like Bhaba Atomic Research Centre, Atomic Energy Commission and ISRO.

Expenditure on teaching and research by the Innovation Universities, which are proposed to be set up during the 11th Plan period, would kept be out of the scrutiny of Comptroller and Auditor General, a final concept note prepared by the HRD Ministry said.

However, the exemption will not extend to expenditure on administration and non-academic areas. Accountability will be ensured by two peer groups — one for research and another for course work and teaching, it said.

These provisions are aimed at encouraging research and teaching activities in the universities. India has been lagging behind other countries in the area of research. While 4,700 professionals per a million people are engaged in research in Organisation for Economic

Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the number of meagre 156 in India, the concept note observed.

These universities will follow a ‘cafeteria approach’ in designing courses at under-graduate, post-graduate and research levels, where a large variety of disciplines will be offered.

Since boundaries in various disciplines tend to crumble, faculties can coordinate to introduce courses based on needs. The final concept note said: Operational autonomy shall be available with faculties in such universities to decide the intake and course structure and no approvals at the university will be required. There will be inter-faculty coordination and choice-based credit system in these institutions.

The faculty board shall have the freedom to prescribe fee structure for the under graduate programmes, while the university will decide the fee for PG courses.

The university shall offer scholarship to 20 per cent of students at Under-Graduate and Post-Graduate levels. These fellowships could be varied upwards in case the performance of student is beyond expectation.

At the doctorate level, all the students should be awarded fellowships to enable partial compensation for pursuit of career of research rather than entering labour market, the concept note said.

The institutions will enjoy autonomy in matters of academics, faculty personnel, finances, administration and in the development of vision for future.

Universities will have the freedom to define their own appointment criteria. This includes appointment by invitation to academics of eminence. The university shall have freedom to define pay structure through a negotiated arrangement for senior faculty.

A University Finance Commission consisting of eminent academicians preferably Nobel laureates and selected national research professors and experts could work out set of criteria for provisioning per-student expenditure for these universities, the concept note said.

The university shall have the freedom to formulate its own statutes and ordinances with the approval of board of governors and no further approval of visitor or government will be required.

The concept note also touched upon different approaches for setting up of such institutions.

These are: setting up green field innovation universities or identifying few of the existing universities and other institutions of repute and granting them Innovation University status.

The proposed universities could give more weightage to students keeping in view the educational attainments of their parents, the learning capacity of the parents and the nature of school the student has passed out from.

The university shall have the freedom to evolve methodology of arriving at weight. The weight will replace the concept of reservation to represent affirmative action, the note said.

For admission, such institutions can follow two stage testing process — a screening process in the first stage involving a standardised aptitude test in broad areas of higher learning and then essay type questions.

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