All that was discussed at UGC's third meeting on National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEFQ)

In an online meeting, UGC Chairman reveals the most important features of the NHEQF. The framework is aimed at revamping the education system so that students are hugely benefitted
NHEQF by UGC | (Pic: Edexlive)
NHEQF by UGC | (Pic: Edexlive)

The University Grants Commission (UGC) held its third consultative meeting on the National Higher Education Qualifications Framework (NHEQF) with the Chairman of NCVET (National Council of Vocational Education and Training), Dr Nirmaljeet Singh Kalsi; Vice-Chairman of AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) Prof MP Poonia and the heads of several higher education institutions from across the Eastern and Northern regions of the country.

The meeting was held online on July 26, at 2.30 pm. Chairman of UGC, Prof M Jagadesh Kumar coordinated the meeting, and the recorded meeting was posted on Twitter from the official UGC handle. From allowing students to exit a course at random to how the vision of education itself changes with it, everything was discussed in detail.
Here are the highlights:

What is NHEQF?
As stated by Dr Kalsi, the NHEQF is collectively designed by the Department of School Education, the Department of Higher Education and the Department of Skill Development, under the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The framework seeks to bring changes in the education system right, from the school to the higher education levels.

It seeks to redefine education in terms of learning outcomes. Learning outcomes, as explained by Prof Kumar are based on “competencies the students are required to acquire and the number of credits they are required to obtain”. He also explains that the framework divides education into eight levels. The first four levels are the school levels, while the last four are governed by higher education.

As such, the first four levels will be taken up under the National School Education Qualification Framework (NSEQF), while the last four levels will come under the ambit of NHEQF. Prof Kumar states that the levels have been designed based on the learning outcomes, depending on the knowledge and complexity involved as a student moves from lower to higher levels, as per the continuous process.

What other frameworks are there?
Along with NHEQF and NSEQF, a National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and National Credit Framework (NCrF) have also been designed. There will be an alignment between all these frameworks, Prof Kumar stated.

Why such frameworks?
Prof Kumar states three objectives behind the introduction of the frameworks. They are:

1.      To establish the equivalence of certificates/diplomas/degrees

2.      To understand competencies expected of a qualification

3.      To enable mobility of students and their employability

Under NCrF, credits will be provided to students from the time of their schooling. Then, as they enter the higher education levels, the NHEQF, under its multi-modal exit approach, allows the students to enter and exit a course as per their wish and get skilled with an apprenticeship, parallel course or internship in the meantime. They will earn credits based on the skill/courses they opt for, as specified under NSQF and NCrF, and they will be deposited in the student’s Academic Bank of Credits (ABC).

This enables “integrating credits in three dimensions of learning, that is, for Academics, Vocational Skills and relevant experimental learning, thus, making Skilling Aspirational,” Dr Kalsi mentioned during her presentation. “It removes the distinction between general and vocational education, he notes.

In addition to this, Prof Poonia says that the framework allows schooling and skilling at the same time. It gives more flexibility to the students. The education system till date was very rigid, and had its limitations, he says. He explains with an example: “There are about one million engineering graduates every year. But industries complain that students are not industry-ready and lack practical skills. They also say that the curriculum is insufficient”. He further says that now everything is synced. “Now a Class VIII student can learn IT skills. The country’s expectations from the graduates would be fulfilled. Such flexibility was required and is now given.”

How are credits awarded?
For all types of academic education, according to NCrF, 1200 hours of learning per year awards 40 credits. Students can choose to opt for project work, internship, a parallel course and so on to earn more than 40 credits. However, every course, project work etc is strictly subject to assessment for earning credits.

After the presentations were made, a question-answer session followed. The participant heads of various institutions posed their queries, which were answered by Prof Kumar, Dr Kalso and Prof Poonia. Here are the most important takes:

Q: Will transferring credits for a student as he goes from one institution to another not be a technical challenge?
A: So as to not make it a challenge, DigiLocker has been introduced. Every educational institution has to register itself on DigiLocker and all the students need to register themselves for the ABC. It should be made compulsory by every institution that students register themselves. Additional technical issues can be taken care of by the concerned institution, and if required UGC is ready to assist.

We will soon make a presentation on this. It has been a year since ABC has been introduced and already about 550 universities and higher educational institutions have registered themselves. However, the number is very low when it comes to the students. The ABC and DigiLocker system will be very popular once our Digital University comes into being. Parallel degree courses will be made available there and students can earn 40% of their credits from the Digital University. We are working on it and it will be launched soon.

Q: There will be many changes under this framework. Take the multi-modal exit facility for example. After the framework is implemented, what about the students in the transition phase?
A: Yes, there will be a lot of students in the transition phase. One option is to award them degrees or certificates according to the old system. But the best way is to maximise the benefits and flexibility for the students. The institution’s Academic Council and Board of Studies should work out the guidelines so that the students can benefit under this broad framework. The institutions have the resources to work out the modalities.

Q: Different universities have different levels of competence. In this case, how to draw the equivalence, if a student decides to migrate from one university to another and also from course to course?
A: The criterion that requires a minimum number of credits at every level can be used here. Within the UGC we have formed a committee to work out the guidelines for equivalence.

Additionally, to enhance the quality of an institution and for the benefit of students, soft skills, training programmes, Spoken English classes and so on need to be introduced in every institution. New courses and capacity-building workshops need to be conducted to strengthen institutions.

Q: When will the frameworks be implemented?
A: The documentation is finalised and the integration is being done. The curriculum is also being designed and will be mature soon. In the upcoming six to eight months, we would be able to bring it out. We are hoping to announce it soon so that it can be implemented.

Towards the end of the meeting, Dr Jagadesh Kumar stated that in the last two consultative meetings which were held on NHEQF, they received support and appreciation from several heads of educational institutions.

Related Stories

No stories found.