Life-changing Or Cosmetic Changes: How Does NEP Affect A Common University Student

NEP has put an emphasis on multi-disciplinary under-graduate education - students will be encouraged to take up multidisciplinary subjects and merge that with vocational and soft skills.

The NEP is a game-changing vision document for the education industry. India’s education system badly needed a revolution as minor tweaking of the policy wasn’t being enough; the system had already started to falter – with reducing the return on investment from college degrees, the students had started losing their hope. The document is progressive in its approach and creates the right conditions for spontaneous combustion, without putting the industry on fire. The NEP address all the three chronic problems – quality, quantity and inclusiveness and when implemented, shall have a profound impact on the life of the students too. Here it is how:

CHOICE: NEP has put an emphasis on multi-disciplinary under-graduate education - students will be encouraged to take up multidisciplinary subjects and merge that with vocational and soft skills. Innovative combinations like machine learning with psychology will be encouraged. To move away from the rote learning culture and march towards a practical, hands-on approach, students of all universities shall be provided with internship opportunities as well as research internships to improve their employability.

PROGRAM STRUCTURE: The undergraduate degree program can be a 3 year or a 4-year program with multiple exit options – students exiting at the end of one year gets a certificate, at the end of two years get a diploma and a degree at the end of three years. All credits and certificates, thus earned, shall be transferable across institutions. Students will be able to accumulate credits by completing courses in different institutions and aggregating them to get a degree. The document also proposes a 4 year degree where the last year may be dedicated to research work in the area of specialisation. Accordingly, Masters degrees can be for 2 years (for students who have taken a 3-year degree program) or for one year (for a 4-year degree student). PhD can be taken up either by a masters student or by a 4-year degree student.

MEDIUM OF INSTRUCTION: Colleges and Universities shall be encouraged to offer programs in two languages – mother-tongue/local language and a second language. Use of mother-tongue/local language shall be promoted.

ASSESSMENTS: Institutions shall be asked to move out of term-end examinations to a system of continuous evaluation and feedback. All institutions will have the autonomy to decide their mode, style and pattern of assessments within the broad guidelines provided. There shall be no differentiation between classroom students, ODL students or Online students. Assessments shall move from a memory-check examination to a more sensible assessment – that of the achievement of the learning goals.

STUDENT COUNSELING: HEIs shall set up special support centres for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Institutions shall be provided with resources to provide specialised scholarships to meritorious and needy students. Students shall also be provided with professional, academic and career counselling services by their institutions.

VOCATIONAL EDUCATION: Universities shall start integrating vocation education with the mainstream formal education – every student shall be encouraged to learn at least one vocational skill.

FEES: All institutions shall have the autonomy to fix their own course fees within a range provided by the regulator. No institution shall be permitted to arbitrarily increase their fees.

USE OF TECHNOLOGY: Institutions shall be encouraged to use a variety of new and disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchains, smart boards, handheld computing devices, adaptive computer testing for student development – this is expected to improve the pedagogy and the learning outcome.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: Universities shall be permitted to enrol international students into their programs. To ensure smooth movement of students a credit transfer system between foreign universities and Indian universities shall be developed.

The policy document is both forward-looking and transformational. The students can benefit from a lot of choices for courses, a contemporary course curriculum, a modern pedagogy, an equivalence of credits between online, ODL and classroom programs, a much-improved assessment system, mentorship and career counselling. The integration of the course curriculum with the industry through internships and apprenticeships shall provide the hands-on learning experience to the students. A clear mandated focus on employability can help improve graduate employability rates. But much rests on the way the policy document is implemented on the ground. India’s missing its tryst with destiny is not due to its lack of intentions but owing to a chronic execution deficit. The government has done the right thing by setting up an ambitious vision; but the benefits will depend on how it is implemented.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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