National Education Policy: Key-Systems that will Drive Reforms

The national education policy has been put into effect and now the practicalities of it are being deliberated upon and they are unraverling by the day. The scheme of the policy is to bring about large scale transformation in the school and higher education sector.  The latest of the announcements made with regard to the new education policy and its implementation includes the announcements of the timelines within which the NEP will be executed. The timelines were tabled by the Education Secretary Amit Khare. The timelines are indicative and have been put forth to expedite the implementation of the NEP, for now, the time frame suggestion has been restricted to the subject areas that do not have financials conditionals attached to them, for instance the provision of multiple entry and exit points for students to avail while choosing disciplines does not depend heavily on finance, it depends on the readiness to adapt in the light of a new perspective and therefore the implementation of multiple entry and exit can be bound to the timelines at this point. 

National Education Policy

The systems, agencies and institutions that are proposed to be put in place and their expected purviews, and timelines of establishment are discussed as under—

 In the case of higher education the multiple entry and exit options for students will be rolled out from the current year itself, although they were planned to take effect from 2020 itself but like all other things, the implementation was held back due to the pandemic. Another area which will be effective from year 2021  is the 4 year degree course which will be initiated in the central universities first and from the next year, other universities will be able to roll it out. 

In this regard it is notable that the NEP 2020 has proposed that the universities provide undergraduate degree courses of either 3 or 4 year duration with multiple entry and exit options and periodic certifications. The award of degree and certificates will follow a novel concept that forms the cornerstone of multiple entry and exit scheme. The certification will come after an year for a given discipline and a diploma would come after 2 years and a degree can be awarded after the completion of 3 years in a given programme. With such variety of engagement options, the preference of the student will become a determining factor and with the compulsion removed, the students will be able to re-think, re-evaluate and revise their choices. This provision will enable them to make informed and deliberate choices and they will certainly get empowered to decide their level of engagement with a discipline.  The 4 year degree course may come out to be the most preferred option as it provides the maximum range and exposure and avenues for multidisciplinary interfaces with the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in the chosen subjects with options to major or minor in. 

The institutions will finally recast their offerings of masters programmes and will be able to offer them in new designs. Depending on the type of the undergraduate programme the student has undergone , the masters degree programme will either be of one or two years. For those who had completed a three year programme, the masters will include an year of research- focused course , and those who have a 4 year undergraduate degree, could complete their masters in an year. 

Another highlight of the reconstituted higher education is the discontinuation of the M Phil. programme, and the introduction of a 5 year integrated masters programme. As for the doctoral degree, the graduates with an honors degree and a year of research will have the opportunity to enter a PHD programme which normally requires a masters degree.

The establishment of an Academic Bank of Credit is also on the cards. This implies that the academic credits earned by a student in the undergraduate or masters programme will be stored digitally and will be accounted in the award of the final degree. 

2 . Common entrance tests are also an important feature of the National Education Policy, the tests are to be conceptualized and executed by the newly positioned National Testing Agency (NTA). The NTA will formulate high-quality aptitude tests alongwith specialization and subject knowledge tests, the NTA administered tests are slated to start in May 2021. The common entrance tests that have been conceptualized for entrance into different courses will purportedly do away with the need of coaching and will test the ability and general aptitude of the examinees with a focus on the interests that constitutes the appeal of a particular subject. 

The advantages of delegation of entrance examination to a central agency are multifold, the removal of enormous pressure of organization of entrance examination on a large scale that the universities bear and the pressure of taking multiple entrance examination for admission into a particular course, which the students customarily do to maximize their chances, are the major ones. 

The agency will serve as the facilitator and conductor of exams and will afford students and universities the flexibility to conduct and take exams without the hassle of multiplicity. 

The universities will have the choice to adopt the assessment systems devised by the NTA as they see fit.

3. The Commission for Higher Education is on the cards and will be on the scene by the year 2022 

The Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) is going to supplant the University Grants Commission (UGC) and it will be control the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

HECI will encompass independent verticals as an umbrella organization—

The National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) will be the body that will regulate the higher education with the exception of legal and Medical education. The teacher training will also fall under its purview.  As of now, there are multiple bodies that regulate the higher education sector in India, needless to say the efforts are duplicated and the system is far from streamlined. NHERC will be the single body responsible for putting in place regulatory mechanisms for higher education as per the proposal of NEP and this will make the entire system less disjointed and coherent. 

National Accreditation Council is the second body that will oversee the accreditation of institutions which will be based on fulfillment of the established norms, public self-disclosure, standards of governance, and educational outcomes.

The Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) will be the body to oversee the funding of the higher educational institutions. Its objective is to achieve transparency and efficiency. 

The General Education Council (GEC) is the fourth pillar of the higher education edifice. The GEC will formulate the educational outcomes for the higher education courses, its brief also includes the seamless integration of the vocational education into the academic structure in accordance with National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF).

4. Internationalization of higher education with foreign universities setting up campuses in India and Indian Universities setting up campuses abroad is another major proposal of the NEP. This particular feature has not been assigned an implementation timeline yet.

The high-performing Indian Universities will be treated as the flag bearer institutions and will be offered facilitation for opening up campuses abroad. In similar vein, the universities that rank globally among the top 100, will be incentivized by an allowance to open campuses in India. 

A legislative framework will be put in place to regulate such internationalization. The framework will allow the foreign universities and institutions to operate under special dispensation within India. There will also be improved mechanisms to facilitate the student exchange and research collaboration between Indian and foreign institutions. 

5. Achieving 50 per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education, including vocational education, by 2035

NEP calls for establishment of more HEIs in underserved regions to ensure full access, equity, and inclusion and says that by 2030, aim should be to establish at least one large multidisciplinary HEI in or near every district.

NEP calls for increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035. While a number of new institutions may be developed to attain these goals, a large part of the capacity creation will be achieved by consolidating, substantially expanding, and also improving existing HEIs

The NEP has intended to place a premium on the encouragement of the research culture in the Indian universities and for that the development of National Research Foundation (NRF) has been proposed. 

The research foundation will work with an objective to encourage research efforts among students and for that it will seek to incentivize research efforts. It will have a mechanism which will encourage merit and will be equitable. The funding will be based on peer-review and will incentivize exceptional research. The NRF will help the institutions that have limited research capabilities by expanding their opportunities in research. 

The NEP suggests that the NRF be established by an act of Parliament and be composed of division including Sciences, Technology, Social Sciences and Humanities/Arts. 


Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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