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Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA) In News

The Ministry of Education has introduced the Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA), a central scheme aimed at enhancing access, equity, and excellence in higher education across States and Union Territories.

However, the requirement for implementing the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and adopting certain academic criteria to avail funds has sparked controversy, making the scheme seem exclusivist.

PM-USHA Scheme and NEP 2020 Integration

  • The PM-USHA scheme aims to provide financial support to States for improving their higher education systems.
  • As per the guidelines released in June, States and Union Territories must sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Higher Education, committing to implement NEP 2020 and adopt guidelines for the National Credit Framework and Choice Based Credit System for Four Year Undergraduate Programme.
  • These conditions serve as prerequisites for accessing the ₹12,926.10 crore allocated between 2023-24 and 2025-26, despite the requirement for 40% funding contribution from State governments.

Limited Participation and Dissent

  • Out of the total States and Union Territories, only 22 have joined the PM-USHA, with notable exceptions like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, which have declined participation.
  • These States have shown resistance to NEP 2020 at both draft and implementation stages, some even drafting their own State Education Policies. Demands have arisen to shift ‘education’ from the Concurrent List back to the State List, highlighting the contentious nature of the policy.
  • Against this backdrop, the conditions of the PM-USHA scheme seemingly serve as a means to indirectly enforce NEP 2020.

Challenges and Concerns

Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA) in news_4.1


  • One of the significant challenges lies in the requirement for adopting multiple entry and exit options in degree programs and adhering to National Higher Education Qualifications Framework guidelines.
  • Critics argue that these measures might lead to increased dropout rates from higher education institutions. Furthermore, the emphasis on a four-year undergraduate program has raised concerns about affordability and accessibility for economically disadvantaged students.
  • Even States that are supportive of NEP 2020, such as Meghalaya, have raised concerns about funding criteria and eligibility, especially for institutions in their early operational stages.

Cooperative Federalism and Negotiations

  • The imposition of conditions for accessing funds under the PM-USHA scheme has raised questions about cooperative federalism, as States feel pressured to conform to NEP 2020 without adequate negotiation.
  • To preserve the spirit of cooperative federalism and ensure a more inclusive approach, it would be advisable for the Ministry of Education to engage in meaningful dialogue and negotiate better terms with dissenting States.
  • This would allow for a more balanced and cooperative implementation of the NEP 2020 while respecting the autonomy of States.

Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA): Nurturing Quality Higher Education and Innovation

  • In the context of the National Education Policy, the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) Scheme has been introduced as the “Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA)” in June 2023.
  • Its objectives include enhancing the quality of existing state higher education institutions by ensuring compliance with prescribed norms and standards, embracing accreditation as a quality assurance framework.
  • The scheme aims to bring about governance, academic, and examination reforms in these institutions, while also establishing connections with both school education and the job market to foster self-reliance and contribute to the concept of Atma-Nirbhar Bharat.
  • Furthermore, PM-USHA seeks to create a conducive environment within higher education institutions to encourage research and innovation.


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