A set of three education-related legislations will be on the Union Cabinet’s agenda when it meets on Tuesday. This will include an ambitious proposal that will require all academic institutes right from schools to universities to preserve and confer degrees/certificates on students in the electronic format as well.
The National Academic Depository Bill proposes to create a national-level database of all academic certification and is projected as a major reform step that will cut through layers of attestation and inspection processes and crack down on fake degree rackets. It also means that every student,employer and institute will be able to take a print of a degree and check its veracity online like a demat account. That apart,the ministry feels the move will help in maintenance of academic records and check problems like spoilage of certificates over time. It will also ease things for those seeking duplicate copies of their degrees.
While all new degrees and certificates will switch to the smart format once this legislation comes through,existing degree holders will also be able to have their certificates saved electronically with the depository,as per the ministry.
The move has come in the face of several complaints about fake degrees in circulation many of which have come from overseas educational institutes. To be implemented in a phased manner,the ministry will ask all universities to switch to the smart degree version by saving all degrees as online documents with this depository system. The Bill,if approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday,could be introduced in Parliament in this session itself.
Two more pieces of legislation for amendments to the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) Act,1953 and the National Institute of Technology Act,1997 are also headed for Cabinet nod. They both have already been introduced in Parliament and are coming up for a final approval after incorporating suggestions from the Parliamentary Standing Committee. The NIT Act amendment is aimed at inclusion of the five Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (IISER) and the 10 new NITs within the ambit of the Act so as to empower them to award degrees.