It is common to hear often that the higher education in western countries is far superior when compared to that in India. National Education Policy is announced for the third time in India during the end of July 2020 in a span of 70 years. In the policy higher educational governance system was poised for a major structural reform. Among many others, changers envisaged rehashing for entire regulatory system of higher education and doing away with UGC assumes critical importance. The policy came into existence when the entire education system into country is in a total pell-mell due to the pandemic and online learning became the order of the day.
More private participation with less commercialisation
The national policy recommends gross enrolment in higher education be sustained and reach 50 percent by 2035 and the affiliation of colleges should be phased over a period of 15 years. The mix of higher educational institutes will be teaching intensive universities, research intensive universities and accredited colleges. An accredited college can change to the university status based on its track record of performance. Teacher autonomy and institutional autonomy are given priority for revamp as they were seen as highly neglected constituents in the system. However the policy was apathetic to the fragmented approach of higher educational institutes which lack multidisciplinary approach in their teaching or research endeavours. There are a host of recommendations related to institutional changes in reconstructing a system built on expanded student choice of option of subjects and courses for his studies and career.
The policy envisages more of private participation but with definite curbs against commercialization. Rehashing the higher education sector assumes critical importance in the policy. It would be of great significance as the concept of university existing in present times would undergo a see saw change. It is expected for higher education a healthy competition among institutes of higher learning with stringent norms and mechanisms ordained. Several of the recommendations are explicit by remaining silent. One such example is the silence over reservations in higher education institutes and the FDI in higher education.
Quality in education
The structural changes suggested in the policy at apex level constitute Higher Education Commission of India, which would be supported by National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for overall regulation for transparency and financial probity. National Accreditation Council (NHC) as a meta accrediting body and General Education Grants Council (GEGC) to allocate grants for setting and ensuring standards concerning outcomes and quality in education. Thus the focus on the whole was not merely on allocations.
A challenge in implementation
The recommendations in the policy are commendable to make higher education in the country competitive and make it global and international. But the proof of the pudding is in eating. Education in India is in concurrent list in the constitution. Reforms may pose a challenge in the implementation on some aspects because of the characteristic feature of our federal polity and politics. To bring the unbridled growth of commercialization under control and impact on quality and adaptation of reforms among different states in the country is to be watched yet.
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