Centre Launches two Schemes to Promote Higher Education Research

Prelims level : schemes Mains level : G.S-II Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
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The Centre announced two schemes to promote higher education research in India:

  • IMPRESS, dealing with social science research projects and coordinated by the ICSSR.
  • SPARC, involving foreign collaboration mainly in science research, coordinated by IIT Kharagpur.


  • The Union Minister for Human Resource Development launched the web portal of the Scheme “Impactful Policy Research in Social Sciences (IMPRESS)”. Indian Council of Social Science and Research (ICSSR) will be the project implementing agency.
  • Under the Scheme, 1500 research projects will be awarded for 2 years to support the social science research in the higher educational institutions and to enable research to guide policy making.
  • The broad objectives of the scheme are:
    • To identify and fund research proposals in social sciences with maximum impact on the governance and society.
    • To focus research on (11) broad thematic areas such as: State and Democracy, Urban transformation, Media, Culture and Society, Employment, Skills and Rural transformation, Governance, Innovation and Public Policy, Growth, Macro-trade and Economic Policy, Agriculture and Rural Development, Health and Environment, Science and Education, Social Media and Technology, Politics, Law and Economics. The Sub-Theme areas will be decided on the basis of Expert Groups’ advice before notifying the scheme and calling for applications.
    • To ensure selection of projects through a transparent, competitive process on online mode.
    • To provide opportunity for social science researchers in any institution in the country, including all Universities (Central and State), private institutions with 12(B) status conferred by UGC.
    • e) ICSSR funded/recognised research


  • • The Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri Prakash Javadekar launched the web portal of the Scheme “Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC)”. SPARC scheme aims at improving the research ecosystem of India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions and the best institutions in the world.
  • Salient Features of SPARC are : This scheme will improve research ecosystem of India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions [overall top-100 or category-wise top-100 in NIRF ( including such Private Institutions which are recognized under 12(B) of UGC Act)] and the best institutions in the world (top-500 overall and top-200 subject-wise institutions listed in QS World University Ranking) from 28 selected nations [Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom(UK), United States of America(USA)] to jointly solve problems of national and international relevance. As per the criteria mentioned above, 254 top Indian Institutes and 478 top ranked global Institutes have been already identified.
  • A set of 5 Thrust Areas (Fundamental Research, Emergent Areas of Impact, Convergence, Action-Oriented Research and Innovation-Driven) and sub-theme areas in each thrust area has been identified for collaboration under SPARC based on emergent relevance and importance for the nation.
  • Each Thrust Area will have a Section Chair. The role of Section Chair of each Thrust Area is to review shortlist and recommend the potential joint-proposals submitted under SPARC scheme.
  • A set of Nodal Institutions (NI), from India, for each participating foreign country has been identified. The role of a NI is to help, handhold and coordinate with willing Participating Indian (PI) Institutions to forge alliance with the Institutions of concerned participating foreign country, for academic and research collaboration. 25 such reputed Institutions have been notified as Nodal Institutions.
  • SPARC proposes to enable productive academic cooperation by supporting the following critical components that can catalyse impact making research : i) Visits and long-term stay of top international faculty/researchers in Indian institutions to pursue teaching and research , ii) Visits by Indian students for training and experimentation in premier laboratories worldwide , iii) Joint development of niche courses, world-class books and monographs, translatable patents, demonstrable technologies or action oriented research outcomes and products , iv) Publication , Dissemination and Visibility through a high profile annual international conference in India .
  • This Scheme is expected to have a major impact in providing the best international expertise to address major national problems, expose Indian academicians to the best collaborators abroad, enable international faculty to stay in India for a longer duration, provide Indian students an opportunity to work in the world class laboratories, to develop strong bilateral relationships in research, and improve the international ranking of Indian Institutes.
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