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Revisiting Academic Bank of Credits

  • IASbaba
  • February 19, 2022
  • 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-3: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Revisiting Academic Bank of Credits

Context: The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has recommended a revamp of the higher education scene in India to make education more student-centric and multi-disciplinary.

  • A new initiative stemming from this desire is an ‘Academic Bank of Credits’ (ABC) in higher education idea, which was notified recently by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for implementation.

Why ABC?

  • Any undergraduate or postgraduate student can create an account in the ABC portal and store information of his/her completed courses (i.e., subjects/papers in old terminology) and grades obtained. 
  • These grades are stored for a period of five years. 
  • As multiple institutes are connected to the ABC portal, one can be formally enrolled in university ‘A’ but can choose to do some courses from university ‘B’, some more from university ‘C’ and so on and all of these would count towards the student’s degree. 
  • Also, if any student needs to get back to education after a break or has to relocate to another city, they can easily ‘carry’ forward their completed credits.
  • One can even enrol in SWAYAM (a programme initiated by the Government of India) or the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) and add these credits to my ABC.
  • One gets a chance to enrol in a course and learn from teachers from some of the best institutes such as the IITs and IISER.
    • ABC regulations say that the institute should allow up to 20% supernumerary seats for students enrolling through the ABC scheme. 
  • Thus, education will truly become flexible and interdisciplinary, without forcing any single institute to float an unmanageable number of courses.

Challenges

  1. Administrative challenges
  • If there are more applicants for a course, it would become challenging for the institute to choose amongst them.
  • Extra human resources would be provided to handle all such requests for all elective courses offered each semester.
  1. Academic Challenges
  • So far we have not found any evidence in the public domain that the MOOC platforms can provide a reliable assessment of learning achievement. Course coordinators would be inclined to award scores liberally and paint a rosy picture.
    • Therefore, some reputed institutes have already put in place guidelines to ‘adjust’ the score obtained by the students in MOOCs before it is accepted in the institute’s records. 
  • Earlier regulation stated that the ABC portal will accept courses from those higher education institutes which have obtained an ‘A’ grade or higher in the latest round of National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) accreditation, but now that filter has been removed now. This may lead to lack of standardisation of quality.
  • Thus, one may find it tempting to opt out of a challenging course in one’s institute and use the ABC scheme to replace it with an equivalent course from another university where it would be far easier to obtain good grades.
  1. Weakens Teacher Quality in Small Colleges
  • The ABC scheme specifies that students can avail up to 70% of courses from other institutes while being enrolled in a particular college.
  • If students avail these credits outside the parent college, they need not enrol for the corresponding in-house courses. The brand name would be an attraction, which often comes at the cost of reputation of small colleges
  • As the number of teaching posts in any higher education institute are calculated on the basis of student enrolment numbers, such flexibility is going to create challenges with respect to maintaining the Teaching staff strength especially in small colleges. 

Conclusion

  • As a whole, this scheme has all the right and laudable intentions and would probably work well in a society with a more equitable distribution of resources. 
  • In India, where the quality of education varies drastically from one institute to the next, this can lead to unmanageable academic and administrative issues. 

Connecting the dots:

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