UGC to Deliver a Six-pack Baby  

The UGC has recently announced a slew of policy reforms that put in place different New Education Policy (NEP) milestones for higher education to reach its new destination.

Published: 27th March 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th March 2022 03:19 PM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes

The new leadership at the University Grants Commission (UGC) seems to be in a (re)productive and progressive policy breeding mode as seen from its first baby which is getting mid-wifed for a six-pack delivery. How the baby is delivered—natural or C-section—depends on the ecosystem and its further growth on the nutritive feed that policymakers need to give it. Nevertheless, the six-pack baby’s delivery is due soon and its nutrition is a mixed bag. Here is why.

The UGC has recently announced a slew of policy reforms that put in place different New Education Policy (NEP) milestones for higher education to reach its new destination. A significant six seems to hold a lot of promise that can charter the policy pathway to uncharted territories leading to the desired destination. Firstly, the proposed National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF) is an attempt to provide defined guidance to all forms of qualifications based on the essential learnings associated with defined learning outcomes and demonstrated achievement.

With different levels ranging from 5 to 10 across certificate, diploma and degree options, the NHEQF needs to ensure perfect alignment with the existing Academic Bank of Credits (ABC) Regulations and the National Skills Qualification Framework in so far as the number of credits, the nomenclature and the modularity options is concerned for smooth implementation.

The second of the six-pack is the UGC guidelines for transforming higher educational institutions (HEIs) into multi-disciplinary institutions. This is another significant milestone in the NEP highway and requires a structural change in the regulatory architecture that can ensure multi-disciplinary character in HEIs and strong institutional infrastructure. The contours of the proposed guidelines are well polished and adequate care must be given that the ride is not slippery and allows all HEIs to undertake the journey and not just allowing only the ‘usual traffic.’

The third and the fourth pack is the ideal mid-course in the NEP buffet that triggers research and experiential learning on campus. The proposed guidelines for the establishment of Research and Development Cell seed the idea of putting in place an institutional ecosystem for research and development in all types of HEIs. It, however, needs to be supported by R&D schemes that touch all types of HEIs and not just the ‘usual list’. The proposed minimum standards and procedures for the award of PhD and the non-PhD requirement for industry experts to participate as professors of practice have in them the much-needed impetus to foster different forms of research on-campus. The double-barrelled explosion from the R&D cell and a strong on-campus PhD programme can leave inedible research footprints in each campuses’ landscape. 

The public call to provide feedback on the amendment to the existing Open and Distance Learning Programme Regulations is a much-needed stimulus to the ODL mechanism. The present status of ODL has undergone significant progress from its chaotic state a few years back and the proposed changes can only make it get better. The emergence of EdTech players with transformational platforms and transactional pollination is all poised to parachute ODL to newer heights. Here again, ODL must not result in creating internal oligopolies but in a perfectly competitive marketspace involving platforms, institutions and learners.

The sixth and the most important lining in this six-pack is the proposed Common University Entrance Test (CUET) for admissions to Central Universities. Though it is in line with the NEP charter, it needs to be phased in a gradual manner beginning with all private and deemed universities in addition to central universities.

There must also be provisions to include high school performance and not neglect it totally to prevent the possible proliferation of the ‘coaching class factory’ model of schooling. The UGC should also mandate private and deemed universities to adopt JEE, CLAT, etc like CUET without interfering in their admission process. This shall address the painful symptoms of students facing the multiple entrance exam syndrome. In the absence of this, application deadlines will only become revenue lifelines for institutions fully leveraging student anxiety.

The six-pack baby is getting ready in UGC’s policy womb requiring the participation of all stakeholders in its delivery and the nutritive support of UGC for its growth. Let’s get ready to welcome UGC’s six-pack baby.

S Vaidhyasubramaniam

Vice-Chancellor, SASTRA Deemed University


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  • Chandrasekhar

    Very informative article. Thanks to Prof Vaidhyasubramaniam
    1 year ago reply
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