The LexGaze Weekly - DECIPHER

Simplified: How does India’s NEP affect Higher Education?

Vishakha Sharma

Issue 8 | August 8, 2020

The Draft New Education Policy (DNEP), a 484-page report prepared by a nine-member committee, headed by former ISRO chairman, K Kasturirangan was released on May 30, 2019. The final policy, called the New Education Policy of 2020 (“The NEP”) was released on July 29, 2020. In Decipher this week, I decode the changes this policy introduces to the existing framework of Higher Education in India.

1. For Legal Education:-The NEP says that the practice of setting up stand-alone professional educational institutions including legal universities shall be discouraged and that all such existing institutions will have to become multi-disciplinary institutions by 2030. It focuses on the issue of delay in justice delivery system and hence suggests to make the legal education bilingual (English and in the language of the State in which the law programme is situated).

2. Increasing Gross Enrolment Ratio to 50 percent by 2030:-The Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education (including vocational education) shall be endeavoured to be increased from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2030.

3. More holistic approach-The undergraduate degree will be of either 3-or 4-year duration, with multiple exit options within this period, with appropriate certifications. Model public universities for holistic education, at par with IITs, IIMs, etc., called MERUs (Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities) will be set up. Mushrooming of online learning courses and Open School pattern will be followed. Moreover, undertaking a PhD shall require either a Master’s degree or a 4-year Bachelor’s degree with Research. The M.Phil. programme shall be discontinued.

4. Financial support- The National Scholarship Portal will be expanded. Private Higher Education Institutions will offer scholarships ranging from 100% to 25% for at least half of their students.

5. Healthcare education- Healthcare education must be integrative: this would mean, illustratively, that all students of allopathic medical education must have a basic understanding of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH) etc.

6. Technical education- Inclusion of Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3-D machining, big data analysis and machine learning among others in technical education, genomic studies, biotechnology, nanotechnology, neuroscience and so on in the sciences.

7. Single regulator- There will be one common regulatory regime [National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA)] for the entire higher education sector, eliminating duplication and disjunction of regulatory efforts.

8. The NEP also provides that Public Private Partnership (PPP) models will be promoted in higher education.

Brief Analysis -In addition to the aforesaid, various other significant changes have been introduced. The policy appears to be very ambitious and promising, however, its success rate will depend on its execution. For some, it is like old wine in new bottle and for some it is the best India could ever get. However, after critically analysing it, some lacunae can be found. First of all, it was passed without any discussion or debate in the Parliament even after it received stiff opposition from non-Hindi speaking states that saw it as an attempt to impose Hindi on them, back in 2019. Besides, the NEP has fixed a budget allocation of 6% GDP. When the present education budget is less than 1 percent of our GDP and our economy is going very down especially during this global pandemic, it is difficult to see how it will meet its finances. Other very important criticism is about the 3-language formula. Considering the cultural and linguistic plurality of India, there should be atleast one common language besides the mother tongue/regional language for linking all Indians and English language is that gateway. But since English cannot be imposed on students during their school education, how can the linkage be improved? Keeping this criticism aside, all in all, a clear student-centric approach is followed and critical thinking, holistic approach, inquiry-based discovery-based, discussion-based and analysis-based learning is promoted.

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