Contentious criteria – PM-USHA guidelines, funds and NEP | 15 August 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the Centre’s new guidelines to avail the funds available under Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA) scheme.


  • GS2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources;
  • Prelims

National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020):

  • NEP 2020 is a comprehensive framework for the reform and development of the education system in India.
  • It aims to ensure universal access at all
  • levels of schooling, improve the quality of teaching, and promote holistic and multidisciplinary learning.
  • NEP 2020 emphasizes flexibility, critical thinking, and skill development to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
  • The policy proposes measures such as mandatory teacher eligibility tests and teacher professional development to improve the quality of teaching.

Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA):

  • It was launched as Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme to fund States/UTs institutions.
  • The first phase of the scheme was launched in 2013 and the second phase was launched in 2018.
  • Now, in the light of the National Education Policy, RUSA scheme has been launched as Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA).
  • The key objectives of PM-USHA are to improve access, equity and quality in higher education through planned development of higher education at the state level.
  • Funding Mechanism:
    • The funding is based on norms and is outcome dependent.
    • Funds flow from the central ministry through the state governments/union territories before reaching the identified institutions.


  • Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA) Guidelines and Funds:
    • The PM-USHA is a central scheme aimed at improving access, equity, and excellence in higher education in India.
    • The Ministry of Education (MoE) has mandated States and Union Territories to implement the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and adopt academic criteria to avail funds under the PM-USHA.
    • Only 22 States and Union Territories have joined the PM-USHA, while West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala are among the 14 that have refused to participate.
    • The scheme requires a memorandum of understanding to be signed between the State and the Department of Higher Education (MoE).
    • The memorandum of understanding includes commitments from States on adopting guidelines for the National Credit Framework and Choice Based Credit System for Four Year Undergraduate Programme.
    • States must agree to these conditions in order to receive a share of the funds allocated for improving State-run higher education.
    • The funding for the PM-USHA is an outlay of ₹12,926.10 crore between 2023-24 and 2025-26, with 40% of the funding to be borne by the respective State governments.
  • Opposition to NEP 2020 and Concerns:
    • Over the past several years, some States, including Tamil Nadu, have strongly opposed NEP 2020 and have taken measures to draft their own State Education Policy.
    • The PM-USHA conditions appear to be tailored to impose NEP 2020 through the backdoor, raising concerns about the centralization of education policy.
    • Academic stakeholders and administrators have expressed concerns about the multiple entry and exit options in degree programs, which could lead to more dropouts from the higher education system.
    • The emphasis on a four-year undergraduate program has raised concerns about the affordability and feasibility for socially and economically backward students.
    • Meghalaya, a State supporting NEP 2020, has called for a revisit of the funding criteria and an increase in the number of beneficiary units.

Way Forward:

  • Under these circumstances, it would be prudent for the Ministry of Education to negotiate better terms with the dissenting States, respecting the essence of cooperative federalism.

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