Union Budget 2020-21: Positive Shift Of Focus On Hi-End Skills And Quality Higher Education

The important highlights of the Union Budget 2020-21 which will shepherd the evolution of higher education in India are discussed below.

Education in India, especially the higher learning sector required a rethink. Our country’s learning practices, which have largely remained memory-based, demanded a shift towards skill-based trainings where the outcomes are based on practical learnings. Understanding the need of training and re-training in the Indian education eco-system, the Union Budget earmarked Rs 99,300 crore for education in 2020-21 and allotted Rs 3,000 crore for skill development. The dedicated efforts to bridge the gap between skill-based trainings, hi-end programmes and future demands will provide the necessary skills, knowledge and tools to succeed in the future. The other important highlights of the Union Budget 2020-21 which will shepherd the evolution of higher education in India are:

Hopes from New Education Policy: The Indian Government is all set to announce New Education Police (NEP) in the coming years. The country is all set to become world’s youngest and largest workforce by 2030. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her budget speech mentioned that dialogues are being held with responsible stake-holders and the Government has received over 2.5 lakh suggestion over NEP. Indian students not only need literacy but also job and life skills. Our expectation from NEP is that it will give a boost to ways in which subjects are being taught in higher education institutes through a mix of regulatory changes and development initiatives. Ministry of Human Resources & Development will institutionalize a new set of education standards. NEP will also give a boost to classical languages like Sanskrit. The upcoming policy is likely to make a series of changes in ways in which board examinations are conducted in India to eliminate fear of failures in students. The MHRD is looking to merge University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). There will be a single regulatory body, and the existing multiple regulatory bodies will evolve into playing new roles for a better change. 

Announcement of online and special bridge courses: Aiming to provide quality skill-based learning to students from deprived sections of the society or to those who lack access to higher education, the government has proposed to start degree level full-fledged online education programme in the country. This shall be offered only by institutions that are ranked within top 100 in the National Institutional Ranking framework. About 150 higher educational institutions will also start apprenticeship embedded degree/diploma courses by March 2021. These decisions will not only help higher learning to reach the grassroots but will also assure quality learning in students. The decision will bring new and updated technical education requirements to the learners. In addition, special bridge courses, designed by the Ministries of Health and Skill Development together with professional bodies will bring equivalence in the education sector. These specially designed courses will also include language requirements of various countries to ensure career opportunities in foreign lands. Understanding the huge demand for medical teachers, nurses, paramedical staff, the government will train young people in these fields with skill-based training courses to cater to the demands in the rural areas. 

Better infrastructure with FDI and commercial borrowings: The Indian education sector especially the higher learning section has always demanded a better infrastructure. To attract talented teachers, better resources, modern research rooms or labs, greater inflow of finance is required. The government plans to initiate steps to encourage external commercial borrowings and Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) for education sector which was much needed. The new rules to ease foreign investments will give a major boost to capital-starved education infrastructure in India.  

Support to Startup ecosystem: India is the third biggest startup ecosystem in the world and the government is keen on pushing startups across the country. The Union Budget talks about setting up of an investment clearance cell, pre-investment advisory to ease investments in startups. A dedicated investment clearance cell will provide end-to-end support which include advisories, information on loans, fund clearance etc. This will be a huge boost to entrepreneurship culture in India which will help to meet the job demands of skilled workers coming out of the educational institutions every year. Apart from these, announcement of an exclusive TV channel for startups which will be designed and run by startups is a welcoming move. 

Global approach and modern learning: The Union Budget 2020 has also announced schemes for betterment of pre-existing systems from a global perspective. “IND-SAT” test to be held under the ‘Study in India’ programme in Asian and African countries. This will help foreign candidates to get scholarships for studying in Indian higher education centres. Focus is on skill-based trainings which majorly include language training which will help students to get jobs in the international markets. Training under the areas which define new age skills such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data, 3D printing, robotics, virtual reality, etc, will be important. It is really good to see that govt. is realizing the change in dynamism of global requirements and demographic trends and taking new steps to mitigate the potential threats.  

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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