Indian universities will switch to performance-related funding in-stead of needs-related if University Grants Commission plans go ahead.
The move means that universities will be assessed on examination results, quality of research, student-teacher ratio, achievements in sports and culture and their social concerns.
Most universities are notorious for not sticking to the academic calendar, resulting in examination delays, and this will be another area that the UGC will watch closely. It will also monitor how the funds are spent.
The idea is to make the universities earn their keep and not take government funding for granted. This would also be an incentive for good universities; the better the performance the more money they get.
G. D. Sharma, the UGC's secretary, said: "We want those who are doing exceptionally well to be rewarded."
The UGC says that the present system, whereby universities project their needs for the coming year, has led to considerable wastage. Often funds are not used for the projects for which they are sought or are not used at all.
The UGC has been struck by the fact that many universities are complaining about a "resource crunch" yet do not always use the funds they get. "Under-utilisation or non-utilisation is very common," a UGC official said.
There has been a mixed reaction to the plans. While some universities have welcomed it, other mainly state universities have said that the scheme will result in two classes of universities: those that meet the assessment criteria and those that do not.
Independent academics are happy but they suspect that the real reason is not so much the government's concern for quality as its new policy of taking subsidies out of higher education.
The emphasis now is on making universities self-sufficient and spending more on school education.