Karnataka has become the first state to implement the National Education Policy or NEP 2020
Karnataka has taken the lead to become the first state to launch the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 but authorities in the state’s higher-education institutions say they face big challenges and need time to comply with the new norms.
The challenges include training the faculty, introducing a multidisciplinary curriculum, crafting a new syllabus, creating new infrastructure to implement the new policy and the huge costs involved in making the shift, they said.
"If you are a large university then one of the biggest challenges will be to rehouse the three-year curriculum to four-year. Also, if you are not linked with the credit system then it becomes difficult. Each year you have to create a self-sufficient system. In order to create all these structures you have to train, retrain your faculty. These are the academic challenges," said Dr Dwarika Prasad Uniyal, Pro Vice Chancellor, RV university, Bengaluru.
He said that while it would be easy for institutes that are starting up, the old ones will find it difficult. "Academic process is a long one which includes a curriculum committee, then it has to be taken to the board of studies and there are other steps. So, time is an issue."
Implementation will take time
Time will be an issue when it comes to implementing NEP 2020. This is why Abhay Chebbi, Pro-Chancellor, Alliance University said that one year is less for all higher education institutes in Karnataka to be NEP 2020 compliant.
In fact, Dr Vijayan Immanuel, Vice - Chancellor, Vidyashilp University noted that NEP says that it will be a 10 year span to bring multi-disciplinary curriculum into the universities and by another 10 years all higher education should be in that shape.
"So, it can be done but it will take time," he said.
Immanuel pointed out another challenge.
"The NEP document mentions that the higher education ecosystem in the country is very fragmented, highlighting the affiliated institutes. For instance, Karnataka's Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) which is a massive university has around 250 affiliated colleges. So, how do you apply an NEP to this which indeed is a challenge."
Along with time and infrastructure challenges, higher education institutes will be burdened with the high cost of implementing the new policy.
"There is a cost that universities will have to incur in terms of training (the faculty). For instance, if you have an institution that is predominantly technology and now you have to bring in multidiscipline like psychology or economics into it obviously the costs will increase," said Immanuel.
Some of this cost will be passed onto students, he added. However, the increase in fee would only be marginal.
Even Uniyal said that cost will increase "because you'll have to put in additional infrastructure, you will need industry people for skilled courses. So, institutes will need additional budgets."
An interesting point Uniyal highlighted is that NEP 2020 allows students to get 40 percent credits through authorized online courses.
"Where universities don't have the bandwidth they can use online classes. So, the flexibility exists," he said.
Another challenge Dr Latha Murthy, Founder Chairperson at Empowered Minds Edu Solutions LLP India pointed out is changing the syllabus. While certification can be done faster, she said that revamping the syllabus would take time.
She added that pace will be slow when it comes to NEP 2020 implementation.
Immanuel noted that in the initial stage of the shift to the new policy three things will be key which includes curriculum, orienting both faculty and students towards experiential pedagogy and assessment.
"How do you assess a student? You can run a final exam for three hours but that defeats the whole purpose. This is where the huge change comes in. We have to move away from a single assessment to formative assessments," said Immanuel.
More choices for students
While there's a lot of thinking universities have to do, students will have to ponder about choices they are likely to get at institutes apart from arts, science and commerce.
Murthy said students under NEP 2020 have the option of one elective subject and this could include photography, personality development among others.
Immanuel said that sports too could be a part of the elective subjects.
While some of the new universities are already offering as many as 14-15 subjects as electives, Uniyal said that initially it would be difficult to even offer four subjects under electives for many universities.
Though the task is cut out for universities, Atish Chattopadhyay, Director, Jagdish Sheth School of Management (JAGSoM) shared an example of UAE Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education Initiative that works with UAE universities to facilitate innovation education.
"The government may consider a similar partnership with top global universities to make the implementation of NEP 2020 a success," he added.