UGC A la Carte Buffet – The New Indian Express

The recent decision by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to allow students to simultaneously pursue two full-time face-to-face degree programs has raised eyebrows for many. I was also skeptical when the media reported it and at the time of writing this article, the chef (chef) at UGC has put together a thoughtful menu for the “college epicureans” a la carte and buffet. After designing a menu with such gastronomic variety, the implementation policy should ensure that there are enough academic institutions to cook and serve the new menu to the lacking learners. Do we have enough or should we create many institutions is the key question to be answered.

Some of the main common challenges to the implementation of this new policy are the availability of resources (time, people and space). If these are adequately addressed with the help of the New Education Policy (NEP 2020) and deserving Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) receive the political oxygen needed to breathe creativity, not only HEIs can cook and serve the menu, but also ensure that the learning outcomes are optimally nurtured. and learners’ appetites fully sated. As the real-time epicurean that I once was, I am aware of the six tastes of ultimate nutrition and likewise, UGC’s double delight a la carte buffet can revolutionize the appetite for knowledge of the learning with its own
formula six flavors.

✥ Academic Freedom for HEIs: The NEP 2020 identified only four types of HEIs: Multidisciplinary Teaching and Research Universities (MERU), Research-Intensive Universities, Teaching-Intensive Universities and degree-granting colleges. The proposed modular identity for HEIs allows all to award degrees and need not wait for the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) proposal. It must be translated into a workable program by providing the academic freedom required for deserving HEIs to start new campuses, academic programs, flexible study programs, etc. This can be initiated by the UGC within its existing framework.

✥ Collaborative competition: With the possible emergence of four types of SEEs, there is a need to collaborate and compete as the IT services industry did during its formative stages in the first decade of this century. HEIs must collectivize their efforts by contributing their best to the creation of resources and disaggregate among themselves in the consumption of resources. It is in this collaborative competition for contribution and consumption that the success of creative policies lies, without which best practices remain with the “usual favorites” and other HEIs do not progress substantially.

✥ Ease of teaching-learning: The dual demand for next-generation learners and professional skills triggered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR) has many tipping points for pedagogy. The architect of the term 4th IR, the World Economic Forum (WEF), has several of these tipping point examples: implantable cellphones by 2025, 80% of people with a digital presence by 2023, 10% of reading glasses connected to the internet by 2023, 90% of people connected to smartphones and the internet by 2023, one trillion sensors connected to the internet, 50% of internet traffic directed to homes and devices by 2025, etc. . With a high premium on self-directed learning and a low life shelf on status quo teaching and learning skills, self-directed study programs cannot remain in silos but must synergize with each other. coherently.

✥ Contemporary norms and standards: In the age of lean manufacturing, metaverse-driven digital education, etc., norms and standards in terms of physical infrastructure like land and buildings prescribed for all forms of higher education under the aegis of statutory bodies such as UGC, AICTE, NCTE, etc. must be revisited and made contemporary and not obsolete.

✥ Ease of administration: The day-to-day operation of HEIs should be simplified and streamlined by minimizing the need to engage in multiple, annual ritual exercises that require submitting identical data. The One Nation, One Data policy needs to be further strengthened and streamlined to harness the true potential of HEIs in delivering dual degree learning outcomes.

✥ Creative functionalization: The NEP 2020 has enough ingredients for the chef’s creativity in the political menu and the cook’s handiness in the preparation. It is in this mutually creative navigation by all stakeholders that the success of such innovative initiatives lies.

With enough food for thought, let the cooking and serving begin with the cooks (EES) and apprentices waiting for a feast.

S Vaidhyasubramaniam

[email protected]

Vice-Chancellor, SASTRA Renowned University

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