With more than 750,000 Indian students studying abroad, is it wrong to say that the reason is the quality of education provided? Or maybe when we compare our education system with the west, there is not much in terms of actual learning. The lack of focus on providing practical knowledge is one of the main reasons universities abroad appeal more to the students here who are looking for an industry-based education. Even the evaluation process in the examinations focus only on putting higher grades on the certificates, instead of grasping the concepts.
With the aim to transform India into a global knowledge of superpower and to emphasise on the importance of creativity and imagination, the Indian government, after multiple talks with ministers, has replaced the 34-year-old National Policy on Education with the New Education Policy of 2020. By bringing a slew of major changes including allowing top universities to set up campuses to India, planning to shift institutes to multi-disciplinary fields, and a greater proportion of students getting vocational education, the policy envisages a complete overhaul of the current higher education system in India.
The NEP approved by the Union Cabinet is a fresh of breath air which could not have come at a better time than this. While the higher education sector across the world is working together to reopen university campuses, the Indian government took a step back to reflect on the challenges that the education system faced. As a result of which, the government has pushed for a policy that would bring about a change in the system of education that we have been following all this time.
Let’s take a look at the key highlights of the policy which are all set to boost India’s image as a country with abundance of knowledge and all the makings of a future education hub.
1. The NEP 2020 has envisioned the establishment of a liberal, multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary education ecosystem which will lay strong emphasis on liberal arts, humanities, and social sciences along with studies in STEM and medicine. According to this, by 2040, all higher education institutions in the country shall aim to become multidisciplinary institutions, each of which should ideally have 3,000 or more students and by 2030, there should be at least one large multidisciplinary institution in or near every district.
As per the new policy, engineering institutions like IITs must move towards more holistic and multidisciplinary education involving arts and humanities, whereas students pursuing arts and humanities will aim to learn a bit of science. This mix of subjects streams being offered to students will prove to be a great advantage to students, giving them more flexibility and knowledge-based learning.
2. Previously, international campuses could only set base in India by partnering with an Indian institution under the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill 2010, which has now been changed. Under the NEP 2020, select universities from the top 10 across the world will be facilitated to begin operations in India. Along with this, an International Students’ Office hosting overseas students will be set up at each institution.
By allowing international campuses, India will be able to offer world-class education, without students having to pursue higher education abroad. It will also mean that there will be a considerable reduction in the likelihood of human capital moving to other countries for better job prospects.That’s not all, these foreign collaborations are going to pave a way for local institutes to modify and design their curriculum in alignment with theirs and offer a range of subjects and specialisations to students.
3. The NEP 2020 will focus on increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education from 26.3% to 50% by 2035. The plan is to emphasise on providing a flexible curriculum through an interdisciplinary approach, creating multiple exit points in the multidisciplinary bachelor’s or graduate program. This means students can exit at any time – after one year with a certificate, after two years with a diploma, and after three years with a bachelor’s degree.
There will be single discipline universities, along with Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs) and a National Research Foundation set up, according to the policy. For students pursing higher education, an Academic Bank of Credit will be established where they can digitally store academic credits earned from different HEIs and these will be transferred and counted towards their final degree earned.
Along with rapid growth, the Indian government’s shift in higher education policies, and the way in which they are planning to go about will matter a lot, depending on the needs and priorities of the entire sector. At which point, it is important to note that the real test would begin where the regulatory guidelines have to be set for foreign universities to enter the Indian higher education ecosystem. The government is also promoting a strong Stay in India and Study in India program, which is great for universities in the UK and across the world to pay heed and look at how they can engage with the large student community here.