National Education Policy (NEP)2020 Impacts on Higher Education System

NEP 2020

 National Education Policy 2020

NEP is the first education policy of the 21st century and aims to address our country's many growing developmental imperatives. This Policy proposes the revision and revamping of all aspects of the education structure, including its regulation and governance, to create a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of 21st-century education, including SDG4, while building upon India’s traditions and value systems. 

It is based on the principle that education must develop not only cognitive capacities - both the ‘foundational capacities ’of literacy and numeracy and ‘higher-order’ cognitive capacities, such as critical thinking and problem solving – but also social, ethical, and emotional capacities and dispositions.

The rich heritage of ancient and eternal Indian knowledge and thought has been a guiding light for this Policy. The pursuit of knowledge (Jnan), wisdom (Pragya), and truth (Satya) was always considered in Indian thought and philosophy as the highest human goal. The aim of education in ancient India was not just the acquisition of knowledge as preparation for life in this world or life beyond schooling, but for the complete realization and liberation of the self.

 World-class institutions of ancient India such as Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramshila, Vallabhi, set the highest standards of multidisciplinary teaching and research and hosted scholars and students from across backgrounds and countries.

 The Indian education system produced great scholars such as Charaka, Susruta, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Bhaskaracharya, Brahmagupta, Chanakya, Chakrapani Datta, Madhava, Panini, Patanjali, Nagarjuna, Gautama, Pingala, Sankardev, Maitreyi, Gargi, and Thiruvalluvar, among numerous others, who made seminal contributions to world knowledge in diverse fields such as mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy, medical science and surgery, civil engineering, architecture, shipbuilding and navigation, yoga, fine arts, chess, and more. 

Indian culture and philosophy have had a strong influence on the world. These rich legacies to world heritage must not only be nurtured and preserved for posterity but also researched, enhanced, and put to new uses through our education system.

The teacher must be at the center of the fundamental reforms in the education system. The new education policy must help re-establish teachers, at all levels, as the most respected and essential members of our society, because they truly shape our next generation of citizens.

Quality Higher Education must aim to develop good, thoughtful, well-rounded, and creative individuals. It must enable an individual to study one or more specialized areas of interest at a deep level, and also develop character, ethical and Constitutional values, intellectual curiosity, scientific temper, creativity, the spirit of service, and 21st-century capabilities across a range of disciplines including sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, languages, as well as professional, technical, and vocational subjects. A quality higher education must enable personal accomplishment and enlightenment, constructive public engagement, and productive contribution to society. It must prepare students for more meaningful and satisfying lives and work roles and enable economic independence.

Some of the major problems currently faced by the higher education system in India include:

(a) a severely fragmented higher educational ecosystem;

(b) less emphasis on the development of cognitive skills and learning outcomes;

(c) a rigid separation of disciplines, with early specialization and streaming of students into narrow areas of study;

(d) limited access particularly in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, with few HEIs that teach in local languages

(e) limited teacher and institutional autonomy;

(f) inadequate mechanisms for merit-based career management and progression of faculty and institutional leaders;

(g) lesser emphasis on research at most universities and colleges, and lack of competitive peer-reviewed research funding across disciplines;

(h) suboptimal governance and leadership of HEIs;

(i) an ineffective regulatory system; and

(j) large affiliating universities resulting in low standards of undergraduate education.

This policy envisions a complete overhaul and re-energizing of the higher education system to overcome these challenges and thereby deliver high-quality higher education, with equity and inclusion. 

The policy’s vision includes the following key changes to the current system:-

(a) moving towards a higher educational system consisting of large, multidisciplinary universities and colleges, with at least one in or near every district, and with more HEIs across India that offer a medium of instruction or programs in local/Indian languages;

(b) moving towards a more multidisciplinary undergraduate education;

(c) moving towards faculty and institutional autonomy;

(d) revamping curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and student support for enhanced student experiences;

(e) reaffirming the integrity of faculty and institutional leadership positions through merit appointments and career progression based on teaching, research, and service;

(f) establishment of a National Research Foundation to fund outstanding peer-reviewed research and to actively seed research in universities and colleges;

(g) governance of HEIs by high qualified independent boards having academic and administrative autonomy;

(h) “light but tight” regulation by a single regulator for higher education;

(i) increased access, equity, and inclusion through a range of measures, including greater opportunities for outstanding public education; scholarships by private/philanthropic universities for disadvantaged and underprivileged students; online education, and Open Distance Learning (ODL); and all infrastructure and learning materials accessible and available to learners with disabilities.

Holistic and Multidisciplinary Learning-

India has a long tradition of holistic and multidisciplinary learning, from universities such as Takshashila and Nalanda to the extensive literature of India combining subjects across fields. Ancient Indian literary works such as Banabhatta’s Kadambari described a good education as knowledge of the 64 Klaas or arts; and among these 64 ‘arts’ were not only subjects, such as singing and painting, but also ‘scientific ’fields, such as chemistry and mathematics, ‘vocational ’fields such as carpentry and clothes-making, ‘professional ’fields, such as medicine and engineering, as well as ‘soft skills such as communication, discussion, and debate. 

The very idea that all branches of creative human endeavor, including mathematics, science, vocational subjects, professional subjects, and soft skills should be considered ‘arts’, has distinctly Indian origins. This notion of a ‘knowledge of many arts’ or what in modern times is often called the ‘liberal arts’ (i.e., a liberal notion of the arts) must be brought back to Indian education, as it is exactly the kind of education that will be required for the 21st century.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) have consistently shown positive learning outcomes, including increased creativity and innovation, critical thinking and higher-order thinking capacities, problem-solving abilities, teamwork, communication skills, more in-depth learning and mastery of curricula across fields, increases in social and moral awareness, etc., besides general engagement and enjoyment of learning. Research is also improved and enhanced through a holistic and multidisciplinary education approach.

Environment Education will include areas such as climate change, pollution, waste management, sanitation, conservation of biological diversity, management of biological resources and biodiversity, forest and wildlife conservation, and sustainable development and living. 

Value-based education will include the development of humanistic, ethical, Constitutional, and universal human values of truth (Satya), righteous conduct (dharma), peace (Shanti), love (prem), nonviolence (ahimsa), scientific temper, citizenship values, and also life-skills; lessons in Seva/service and participation in community service programs will be considered an integral part of holistic education.

Global Citizenship Education (GCED) 

 GCED  is a response to contemporary global challenges, will be provided to empower learners to become aware of and understand global issues and to become active promoters of more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure, and sustainable societies. Finally, as part of holistic education, students at all HEIs will be provided with opportunities for internships with local industry, businesses, artists, crafts persons, etc., as well as research internships with faculty and researchers at their own or other HEIs/research institutions, so that students may actively engage with the practical side of their learning and, as a by-product, further improve their employability.

By 2040, all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) shall aim to become multidisciplinary institutions and shall aim to have larger student enrolments preferably in the thousands, for optimal use of infrastructure and resources, and for the creation of vibrant multidisciplinary communities. Since this process will take time, all HEIs will first plan to become multidisciplinary by 2030 and gradually increase student strength to the desired levels.

 More HEIs shall be established and developed in underserved regions to ensure full access, equity, and inclusion. There shall, by 2030, be at least one large multidisciplinary HEI in or near every district. Steps shall be taken towards developing high-quality higher education institutions both public and private that have a medium of instruction in local/Indian languages or bilingually. 

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

HEIs will have the flexibility to offer different designs of Master’s programs: (a) there may be a 2-year program with the second year devoted entirely to research for those who have completed the 3-year Bachelor’s program; (b) for students completing a 4-year Bachelor’s program with Research, there could be a 1-year Master’s program; and (c) there may be an integrated 5-year Bachelor’s/Master’s program. Undertaking a Ph.D. shall require either a Master’s degree or a 4-year Bachelor’s degree with Research. The M.Phil. program shall be discontinued.

The Curriculum, pedagogy, continuous assessment, and student support are the cornerstones for quality learning. Along with providing suitable resources and infrastructure, such as quality libraries, classrooms, labs, technology, sports/recreation areas, student discussion spaces, and dining areas, several initiatives will be required to ensure that learning environments are engaging and supportive, and enable all students to succeed.

Additional actions that are specific to higher education shall be adopted by all Governments and HEIs:

 Steps to be taken by Governments

(a) Earmark suitable Government funds for the education of SEDGs

(b) Set clear targets for higher GER for SEDGs

(c) Enhance gender balance in admissions to HEIs

(d) Enhance access by establishing more high-quality HEIs in aspirational districts and Special Education Zones containing larger numbers of SEDGs

(e) Develop and support high-quality HEIs that teach in local/Indian languages or bilingually

(f) Provide more financial assistance and scholarships to SEDGs in both public and private HEIs

(g) Conduct outreach programs on higher education opportunities and scholarships among SDGs

(h) Develop and support technology tools for better participation and learning outcomes.

Steps to be taken by HEIs

(a) Mitigate opportunity costs and fees for pursuing higher education

(b) Provide more financial assistance and scholarships to socio-economically disadvantaged students

(c) Conduct outreach on higher education opportunities and scholarships

(d) Make admissions processes more inclusive

(e) Make curriculum more inclusive

(f) Increase employability potential of higher education programs

(g) Develop more degree courses taught in Indian languages and bilingually

(h) Ensure all buildings and facilities are wheelchair-accessible and disabled-friendly

(i) Develop bridge courses for students that come from disadvantaged educational backgrounds

(j) Provide socio-emotional and academic support and mentoring for all such students through suitable counseling and mentoring programs

(k) Ensure sensitization of faculty, counselor, and students on the gender-identity issue and its inclusion in all aspects of the HEI, including curricula

(l) Strictly enforce all no-discrimination and anti-harassment rules

(m) Develop Institutional Development Plans that contain specific plans for action on increasing participation from SDGs, including but not limited to the above items.

All HEIs in India will aim to become independent self-governing institutions pursuing innovation and excellence. Measures will be taken at all HEIs to ensure the leadership of the highest quality and promote an institutional culture of excellence. Upon receiving the appropriately graded accreditations that deem the institution ready for such a move, a Board of Governors (BoG) shall be established consisting of a group of highly qualified, competent, and dedicated individuals who have proven capabilities and a strong sense of commitment to the institution.

Ph.D. Admission Entrance Test Registration-

JUNE 2021