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What’s new in Higher Education

  • IASbaba
  • August 30, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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EDUCATION/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

What’s new in Higher Education

Context: The new National Education Policy is in the news again with Delhi University (DU) approving the introduction of the four-year undergraduate programme from 2022, amid opposition from teachers.

The NEP proposes several reforms for higher education. A look at how, if implemented in letter and spirit, the NEP can change the classroom experience:

  1. Multidisciplinarity
  • Higher education in India is focused on producing disciplinary experts. But the new NEP proposes to break disciplinary boundaries. 
  • What this means is that B Tech students, for example, would no longer limit themselves to their engineering branch. Instead, their programmes will have a more significant component of arts and humanities. 
  • “Students of arts and humanities will aim to learn more science, and all will make an effort to incorporate more vocational subjects and soft skills,” the policy states.
  • IIT-Bombay’s new Liberal Arts, Sciences, and Engineering (LASE) Programme is one example of how the NEP’s vision translates on ground
    • It gives students the option to graduate with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in five fields or “concentrations” — engineering sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, art and design.
    • The fifth option permits the student to design her own concentration. 
  1. Four-year undergrad programme
  • Undergraduate programmes in India, except professional degrees such as B Tech and MBBS, usually last three years. 
  • While the NEP doesn’t call for scrapping of the three-year format, it states that the four-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programme “shall be the preferred option”.
  • The new policy proposes to increase the length of degree programmes to allow students to experience the full range of holistic and multidisciplinary education.
  • While students pursuing undergraduate education will be studying an extra year, they will also have the option to exit early with the “appropriate certification”. Quitting after the 
    • First year will earn – a certificate
    • Second year -a diploma
    • Third Year – a Bachelor’s degree. 
    • Completing the entire programme would lead to a bachelor’s degree “with Research” if the student completes “a rigorous research project” in her major area(s) of study.
  • Delhi University is the first to implement this NEP suggestion. Starting 2022, DU students can opt for either a three-year honours programme, or a four-year honours programme, or a four-year honours programme with research. They can also exit with appropriate certification.
  1. Academic Bank of Credit
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) had introduced a choice-based credit system (CBCS) before the NEP. Under this system, you earn credits for each course you take during your degree studies. 
  • The Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) proposed by the NEP is where higher education institutions will digitally deposit credits earned by students for courses they studied.
  • Under the ABC, students will be given multiple entry and exit options.
  • This enables students to leave a degree or course and get a corresponding certification and rejoin studies after a certain time and be able to start from where they had left.
  • It will also provide students with the flexibility to move between institutes while pursuing one degree or leave a course.
  • Designating credits to each course would also mean that courses or projects in areas such as community service, environmental education, sciences, art, sports and value-based education would carry weight. This would go a long way in “attainment of a holistic and multidisciplinary education”.
  1. Regional languages
  • The new education policy lays emphasis on promoting Indian languages, arts and culture through education. One of the ways it proposes to do so is by getting higher education institutions to adopt regional languages or the local tongue as the medium of instruction in the classroom. 
  • To begin with, the government has allowed 14 engineering colleges to teach selected engineering programmes in five languages: Marathi, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu and Hindi. 
  • This will help increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education as students who are not proficient in English will be encouraged to pursue further studies in regional languages.
  1. National Entrance Test
  • Another proposal is a single university entrance exam conducted by the National Testing Agency. If this is implemented, students will not have to appear for multiple entrance tests. 
  • Rather than having hundreds of universities each devising their own entrance exams, Universities can make use of this common entrance exam which drastically reduces the burden on students and the entire education system. 

Connecting the dots:

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