HIGHER EDUCATION IN NEW EDUCATION POLICY
Prof. Lallan Prasad
The New Education Policy approved by the Union Cabinet recently is a step towards making India a global knowledge super power. The entire education system will be overhauled to modernise at every level with emphasis on inculcating ‘deep rooted pride among students in being Indian, not only in thought, but also in spirit, intellect and deeds’. Indian higher education system at present is one of the three largest after China and USA with 945 Universities, 23 IIT’s, 20 IIM’s, 542 Medical colleges, 4000 Engineering colleges and several thousand other colleges. The total enrolment in higher educational institutes at present is approximately 35 million, which is planned to be doubled in next 15 years. The quality of education however, needs to be considerably improved. While in Asia India is third most represented countries in higher education, with Japan and China at number one and two, in global ranking it continues to be down.The New Policy aims at breaking disciplinary barriers, encouraging multiple campuses, allowing top Indian higher educational institutions to open campuses abroad and reputed foreign institutions to have campuses in India, do away with multiple regulatory bodies and promote ‘light but tight regulation’. Common norms will be in place for private and public higher education institutions. The entrance exams for admission to Universities and higher education system will also be common.Admission to Ph D will be simplified by discontinuing M Phil.
The definition of university is enlarged to include a spectrum of institutions that range from research intensive universities to teaching intensive universities and autonomous degree granting colleges. The present system of affiliating colleges with universities all be phased out in fifteen years and a stage wise mechanism will be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges. The new policy is designed to promote multi- disciplinary education in all institutions including IIT’s. Students will have choice to chose some subjects other than main, for example music with science or engineering. They will also have multiple exit options and certification. They can have now a certificate after one year, advanced diploma after two years, a degree after three years and a Bachelor’s degree with research after 4 years.This would provide flexibility in the system and students who are not able to complete three or four years degree course in one go for some reason will be benefitted. They will have chance to do so by rejoining and complete the course. An Academic Bank of Credit will be established for digitally storing academic credits.The new policy further envisages establishment of
Multi- disciplinary Education and Research Universities at par with IIT’s and IIM’s. A National Research Foundation will also be setup to promote research with 10 wings including social sciences.
The new policy has opened doors for top 100 foreign universities and institutes of higher learning to open campuses in India. Similarly top Indian Universities and institutes will be encouraged to establish campuses abroad. It’s a welcome step towards enriching country’s educational system and integrating it with global system. Foreign universities will however not allowed surplus generated in India for commercial purposes. They can use it for investing in education sector. A National Forum for Technology will be established to provide platform for free exchange of ideas. HRD ministry will be renamed as Ministry of Education. It will have improved digital infrastructure and content which is necessitated by the COVID 19 pandemic. There is a proposal to establish an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation and a National Institute (or institutes) for Pali, Persian and Prakrit. Sanskrit and languages departments in higher educational institutes will be strengthened and use of mother tongue/ local languages will be promoted in higher learning. Public investment in education will be increased from 4% to 6%of GDP. Increased allocation will boost higher learning and research.
The multiplicity of regulatory authorities will be done away with establishment of the Higher Education Commission of India. University Grants Commission, All India Council of Technical Education and other statutory bodies dealing with education will be merged with it. Medical and Law colleges will however have separate regulators. This and some other provisions like allowing foreign universities to open campuses in india will require legislation by the Parliament.A National Mission for Mentoring is also propose the established with a large pool of outstanding senior retired faculty- including those with the ability to teach in Indian languages. On the sensitive issues like promoting Hindi in higher education all over the country and phasing away reservations in admissions and appointments of faculty positions, New Policy is silent. There may be opposition by the states on more powers to Centre in matters of education. More involvement of states is required in framing and implementing the policy. Further there is an apprehension of eroding the autonomy of higher education institutes by too much involvement of the Government. If the present scenario is an indication the picture is not very rosy. A large number of top executive, administrative and faculty positions in many institutions fully or partly funded by the Central and State governments are lying vacant, infrastructure is not up to mark and teachers involvement in teaching and research is reported to be low.The New Policy is certainly not an old wine in new bottle.It is different from the past and reforms proposed are welcome. It’s effective implementation only can bring desired qualitative changes in our education system.