Unification of university curricula under CBCS invites criticism

Universities point the Centre’s move aims at sabotaging their power, will lead to a compromise on the quality of syllabus and also loss of jobs for teachers in future.

Published: 27th April 2018 01:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th April 2018 03:42 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The autonomy enjoyed by universities in the country is likely to be undermined with the Centre directing all the universities to revise the curriculum as part of unifying the syllabi under the Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS). In the first week of April, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had written to all the Vice-Chancellors of the nation’s universities urging them to adopt CBCS and revise the curriculum. However, universities and educationists in the state has expressed their dissent over the move. 

The UGC letter has directed universities to follow a prescribed syllabus format at the earliest. The UGC has said CBCS should be implemented in all 109 under-graduate courses, which include science and language subjects, by updating the curriculum. The letter also said the Ministry of Human Resource Development had directed the universities to create a database regarding the implementation of CBCS and curriculum revision. Sources said the Centre’s move aims at sabotaging the power of universities and will lead to a compromise on the quality of syllabus prepared by respective academic councils of universities in the state. It will also lead to  loss of jobs for teachers in future.  

Prominent educationists have opposed the move. K N Panikkar, educationist and former vice-chairman of the Higher Education Council of Kerala, told ‘Express’ the Centre’s move was against the principle of higher education. “The move will not help the higher education system in the country. It will also compromise the diverse nature of syllabi in various universities. The Centre can’t impose it forcefully. In fact, the Centre made a similar move earlier which we had opposed. It was halted with combined efforts,” Panikkar said. 

P N Harikumar, general secretary, All Kerala Private College Teachers’ Association (AKPCTA), said the Centre was slowly trying to take over the power of universities in the name of UGC guidelines. “Unlike universities in other states, our universities are being run under a democratic system. We have a board of studies, faculty, an Academic Council and a Syndicate to prepare a curriculum. It is being made under the existing framework of UGC. Unification of syllabus should not be done. We are planning to stage large scale protests in the near future against the Centre’s imposition of the new system,” Harikumar said. 

Echoing a similar opinion, the Government Teachers’ Association said the unification was nothing but a forceful implementation by the Centre which would only lead to losses for universities. “Imposing a common syllabus on all universities in the country doesn’t make sense. The government should refrain from implementing it,” said a faculty member of a government college, requesting anonymity. 

KSHEC criticise Centre

T’Puram: The Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) openly criticised the move by the Centre in compromising the power of universities. According to P M Rajan Gurukkal, Vice-Chairman,  KSHEC, the UGC has no powers to interfere in the power of universities. He also pointed out that the Central Government’s move is undemocratic and against the constitution.

“UGC is a funding agency. They can’t impose something on the universities to implement. It is the universities’ prerogative to prepare the curriculum. we have a separate body called Curriculum Development Committee (CDC). In fact, they recommend the curriculum. So the universities in Kerala won’t accept it for sure. However, the state government has to take a final call”, Gurukkal said. Meanwhile, When Express contacted Kerala University Vice-Chancellor in- Charge, C Ganesh, he said “ Since it is a policy matter, it has to be decided by the Syndicate. The Syndicate meeting is scheduled for May 10. We can’t divulge more about this matter for the time being”.  

UGC guidelines  

In the guidelines issued to universities, UGC defines CBCS as ‘a system which provides choice to students to select from the prescribed courses (core, elective or minor or soft skill).’ Every paper will carry specific credits and students will be required to achieve a minimum number of credits to get a degree. It also says CBCS provides a “cafeteria” type approach in which students can take the courses of their choice, learn at their own pace, undergo additional courses and acquire more than the required credits.

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