KASARGOD: Vice-chancellors of two Kerala state universities called on the government to address the issue of equivalency of courses when it comes to applying for jobs, and regulatory checks to ensure courses are not diluted for flexibility before implementing the National Education Policy (NEP 2020).
They were speaking at the two-day roundtable conference of vice-chancellors on how to implement NEP in the Central University of Kerala at Periya on Friday.
Speaking at a session on 'multiple entry, multiple exit', Kerala University vice-chancellor Prof Mahadevan Pillai said there should be guidelines on which institute will award the degree if a student chose to complete a six-semester undergraduate course from three different universities.
NEP 2020 gives a student the option to exit from a course after the first year, join another university for the second year and then complete the third year in yet another university. Here, credit transfer will require better regulations because there is no uniformity in syllabus or course duration in any two universities.
"The flexibility offered to the student in acquiring an academic degree should not dilute the course," Prof Pillai said.
If courses are not standardised, students will look for the shortest and easiest means to acquire credits by opting for courses with minimum content and easy to complete, he said.
Vice-chancellor of the University of Calicut Prof Jayaraj M K said his university was offering UGC-approved BVoc (Bachelor of Vocational Studies) courses with the option for multiple entry and exit but no student was opting for it.
"The students, if they choose to leave after the first year, will get a certificate; after the second year, they will get a diploma and after the third year, they will get a bachelor's degree. They are not exiting the courses because they are not finding jobs. Instead, they are demanding equivalency to pursue a master's course and then PhD," he said.
"Students of multidisciplinary courses such as microbiology, food science, biotechnology find it difficult to get equivalency while applying for jobs. Similarly, a student with M.Sc. nanoscience is asked if she has a basic degree in physics for jobs," said Prof Jayaraj.
The governments will have to fix these issues of course equivalency and eligibility before stepping on multidisciplinary courses and multiple exit and entry, he said. "Rules and regulations will have to be rewritten," he said.
Several science teachers said re-entering a course is not as easy as exiting because the seats are limited and cannot be increased to take back students.
Karnataka sets the ball rolling
Officials of the Karnataka government, which is going ahead with the implementation of NEP 2020, said multiple entry and exit can be worked out if the teachers are trained to design syllabi.
The syllabus committee should identify job roles for every exit and then design syllabus according to that need, said Gopalakrishna Joshi, executive director, Karnataka State Higher Education Council.
Traditionally, the course will start with a foundation and then move to problem-solving in the last year. With the new NEP, the problem-solving aspects will have to be brought in at an earlier stage and repeated with deepening layers of complexities. "It is called spiral curriculum, which is not popular in the world. But some are trying," Joshi said.
Prof Thimme Gowda, the vice-chairman of Karnataka State Council of Higher Education, said NEP 2020 proposed a new concept of program-wise accreditation so that the course does not get masked by the university's accreditation.
The meeting was attended by vice-chancellors of central universities from across the country, and they were upbeat about the National Education Policy, and called for a change of mindset to make the new policy successful.