The National Policy on Education (NPE) 1986 in its Programme of Action made a focused reference to the crucial dependence of quality ensured delivery of education to continuous knowledge up-gradation, capacity building and motivation of teachers for accepting challenges arising from exponential growth of new knowledge and fast growing trends of breaking barriers of subject specific teaching and research. Thus, the NPE recognized the urgent need for creating effective systems to provide opportunities for professional and career development of teachers, necessary for quality education and research so that they are well equipped and motivated to accept new challenges emerging from growth of new knowledge, international competitiveness and changing requirements of learners, especially in the institutions of higher education. Therefore, it was proposed to enhance their motivation skills and knowledge through systematic orientation in specific subjects, techniques and methodologies, and thereby inculcate in them the right kind of values that would in turn encourage them to take initiatives for innovative and creative work. In order to achieve the above objectives, an initiative was taken by University Grants Commission in the year 1986 and over a period of time, 66 Academic Staff Colleges (ASCs) were established in different universities. During the last two decades or more, the system of ASCs has come to be accepted well and established in the university system with plan to plan financial support of the UGC and cooperation extended by the universities in providing basic infrastructure and other support, required for functioning of the ASCs.

Revisiting the System of ASCs

During the XI Five Year Plan period there has been stress on expansion, equity and excellence. Planning Commission Government of India in its Approach Paper to the XII Five Year Plan has recognized Education as the single most important instrument for social and economic transformation. As of now, we have 723 universities and 35,539 colleges, with total student enrolment of nearly 29 million. Besides the GER getting doubled during the last 10 years to reach the level of 20.4%, the Govt. of India has projected GER of 30% by 2020. However, certain recent studies have highlighted a serious concern about low percentage of employability of our students. Therefore, while continuing focus on expansion, equity and excellence in the XII plan also there is special focus on the issue of employability of students passing out from campuses of institutions of higher education.

There is now greater concern and focus on the issues of quality and inclusive education. A study by the UGC about 1471 selected colleges and 111 selected Universities revealed that 73% of the colleges and 68% of universities in our country are transacting teaching learning processes which are of medium or low quality. Since bulk of enrollment in higher education (96%) takes place in universities and colleges supported by the State Governments (7.5% enrolment in private aided & unaided institutions), an umbrella scheme of Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) has been launched to address the needs of State institutions so as to strengthen them and enhance their quality. The Scheme will also strengthen Undergraduate and Postgraduate education in Colleges. RUSA will also address a major challenge on regional imbalances in higher education.

Several reforms are being introduced in higher education to ensure meaningful quality. This includes a National Mission on Teachers and Teaching to address important issues pertaining to availability of qualified teachers with systems to support their consistent knowledge up-gradation to match the global competition and other requirements of fast growing new knowledge in various disciplines and across disciplines. The Mission also proposes to address the problem of attracting talent into teaching profession. It is also envisaged that the Mission would pursue long term goal of building a strong professional cadre of teachers by setting performance standards and creating top class institutional facilities for innovative teaching and professional development of teachers. The Mission would focus in a holistic manner dealing with the whole sector of education without fragmentation.

The above emerging dimensions of development of education show that our country is in the process of taking big strides in education. In contemporary times our Universities cannot promote an academic life in seclusion but are required to champion reason and imagination in engagement with the wider society and its concerns. Realizing that teachers have to be in the centre stage of these developments, provisions for their motivational training and consistent exposure to innovative trends and advanced knowledge in various disciplines and across discipline, need to be revisited and reengineered in consonance with the contemporary scenario in our country. Not only the faculty but new strategies for governance of educational institutions are also needed to promote innovative, broad and dynamic collaborative models.

In line with the foregoing objectives and for achieving quality assured system for capacity building, continuous knowledge enhancement, new strategies of governance for promotion of innovations and creativity, in these guidelines are being proposed to transform the existing ASCs into two level systems in the form of a Scheme of setting up Human Resource Development Centre (HRDC) and Regional Centres for Capacity Building (RCCB) in selected universities in the country to create new such systems commensurate with the expansion of higher education institutions by the University Grants Commission (UGC) with following broad plan of action:

  1. To organize specially designed Orientation Programmes (OPs) in pedagogy, educational psychology and philosophy, and socio-economic and political concerns for all new entrants at the level of Assistant Professor;
  2. To organize advanced level and more discipline oriented Refresher Courses (RCs), for capacity enhancement and continuous knowledge up-gradation and exposure to emerging developments of faculty involved in teaching in institutions of higher education;
  3. To ensure that every teacher in higher education system of our country is exposed to an OP and a RC at least once during the first three to five years; of his/her career.
  4. To organize specially designed OPs/RCs to enable the faculty involved in teaching and research in institutions of higher education to utilize fast growing Information and Communication Technology support to teaching and research;

 Functions of UGC- Human Resource Development Centre (UGC-HRDC)

The functions of a HRDC will be to plan, organise, implement, monitor and evaluate various programmes in collaboration with concerned RCCB on the broad guidelines suggested by Local Programme Planning and Management Committee (LPPMC). In particular, HRDCs will ensure the following:

  1. To actively collaborate and cooperate with RCCB so as to achieve highest standards of quality and effectiveness of programme delivery.
  2. To actively utilise online systems for interactive connectivity with the RCCB an all the HRDCs for fast and effective functional operations and content delivery.
  3. To contribute and share the repository of experts maintained by RCCB for conduction of programmes in HRDCs.
  4. To contribute and share multimedia repository of RCCB and other sources as indicated of some of the best content delivered in the at HRDC.
  5. To set up a documentation-IT enabled centre-cum-library for reference and source materials necessary for the programmes.
  6. To communicate and manage display of advisories to the participants in advance giving the theme, focus and other details about the programmes.
  7. To actively cooperate with RCCB in maintenance of an information portal giving all details about programmes planned in the region with names and brief CVs of resource persons and preferably full text or at least ppts with abstract and references of the content proposed to be delivered.
  8. To analyse feedback from participants on programme delivered in the HRDC for consistent review for quality enhancement and communicating the same online to RCCB within 15 days from completion of a programme.