National Education Policy 2020 can transform India HE
– Delia Heneghan, Director of Education – India, at Sannam S4
On 29 August, the Union Cabinet of India officially cleared the National Education Policy NEP 2020 to bring transformational change to the Indian education system after 34 long years.
With an ambitious plan to increase the Higher Education Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) to 50% by 2035, the new policy aims to establish India as a global knowledge hub by imparting 21st century skills and multidisciplinary education, while continuing to be deeply-rooted in Indian values and ethos.
The NEP proposes certain pathbreaking reforms that have the ability to significantly change the quality and delivery of higher education in India.
National Education Policy sets up new regulator for India HE – HECI
One of the biggest changes includes the set-up of a single regulator, the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) that will replace the previous regulatory bodies (UGC and AICTE).
The HECI is further subdivided into 4 independent bodies that will serve distinct functions of regulation, accreditation, funding and setting academic standards.
This model will create natural checks and balances in the system, minimise conflicts of interest and avoid concentrations of power.
India wants top foreign universities to set up campuses in the country
Perhaps the most exciting development aimed at establishing India as an international knowledge hub are the new measures pertaining to internationalisation.
According to the policy, the top 100 universities in the world will be allowed to operate in India. The government will finalise a legislative framework to give special dispensation regarding the regulatory, governance and content norms for these select institutions.
In addition to this, credits acquired in foreign universities will be permitted to count towards the award of a degree – paving the way for new dual-degree and joint collaboration models between Indian and international universities, something that has long been available in other countries.
NEP 2020 to push India towards edtech innovation
Finally, the NEP recognises the importance of leveraging the advantages of technology by allowing institutions to develop new digital platforms and ICT-based educational initiatives.
The policy recommends conducting a series of pilot studies to evaluate how to integrate online education into existing course structures, and disseminating best practices across the sector.
The Ministry of Education is already putting these ideas to practice. Over 230 universities will soon be allowed to offer online degree courses if they fulfil one of the two criteria: National Assessment and Accreditation Council NAAC 3.01 and above CGPA or if they feature amongst the top 100 National Institutional Ranking Framework NIRF rankings.
Such measures are vital to ensure that besides equity and access, quality is also ensured. In this area the impact of COVID has accelerated change in India and across the globe.
Now that the much awaited NEP has been cleared, the real work begins, of translating these forward looking recommendations into tangible actions.
The renaming of the Ministry of Human Resource Development to the Ministry of Education is a welcome move and puts Education at all levels at the heart of this reformation drive.
In the Higher Education space the NEP will drive change and bring opportunity for increased collaboration between Indian institutions and international partners in these key areas:
- Collaboration and partnerships in curriculum development and pedagogy focusing on innovation and skill development to drive opportunity for more young people across India.
- Student and staff mobility
- Joint research and Innovation
- Best practice in Industry links and enterprise
- Streamlined systems increasing autonomy, and flexibility with a focus on quality.
These changes have the potential to break the mould and drive economic and intellectual benefits for future generations. But there is much work to be done to deliver the potential of the NEP.
We at Sannam S4 have closely tracked the development of the NEP. In June 2019, we submitted recommendations to the Ministry, after consultation with our partner institutions as part of our advocacy work.
Our recommendations outlined the ways India can develop a successful global engagement strategy, develop domestic research and innovation capabilities to help accelerate the progress of India’s stated national and UN Sustainable Development Goals and create significant employment opportunities.
To this end, we have events in the pipeline that will provide insights on the NEP and what it means for higher education engagement in India.
Pic: Naveed Ahmed