Published: 02nd September 2022
UGC recommends forming 'cluster colleges' to boost multidisciplinary education
The guidelines mention that HIEs should aim to become institutes of multidisciplinary education by 2030. Here's the plan
The University Grants Commission has released a set of guidelines to "transform" higher educational institutions into institutes for multidisciplinary education. The guidelines state that as per the recommendations of the National Education Policy, higher education institutions will be recognised under three categories. These are Teaching-intensive Universities, Research-intensive Universities and Degree-awarding Autonomous Universities.
UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar had stated before that all affiliated autonomous colleges in India, which total up to 2035 colleges, must become autonomous degree-awarding institutes. In order to make this possible, the Draft Guidelines for Transformation of Higher Education Institutions into Multidisciplinary Institutions states, "The affiliated colleges need to achieve the degree-awarding status by passing through different stages of autonomy or by completing the process of becoming part of the cluster to become a large multi-disciplinary HEI. When an HEI becomes a constituent college of the large university it may collaborate with other constituent colleges of the university or open new departments to achieve the status of multidisciplinary HEI."
The draft also mentions "mobility of credits between institutions" as one of the features of a multidisciplinary institute. It refers to the Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) as a platform that "shall provide the facility and functionality for a student to open an academic account and to get on
board of eligible HEIs" and directs that all HEIs will have to register in the ABC to enable this. Opening up avenues for online education is also mentioned as a key feature of an HEI that offers multidisciplinary education and suggests that the Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) portal of the Ministry of Education can help universities provide a host of online courses through the UGC's credit framework for SWAYAM.
The consolidation of HIEs for purpose of providing multidisciplinary degree-awarding education is also stressed by the draft guidelines. "In light of NEP 2020, it is essential to capitalise on the proximity of HEIs in offering multidisciplinary programmes," the guidelines state.
They recommend that institutions collaborate with each other in order to curate programmes that enhance the nature of degree and education being offered. For example, the Bachelor of Education programme can be merged with the Bachelor of Arts programme from two different universities to offer the Integrated Teacher Education Programme (ITEP) with a combination of BA and BTech.
In light of these recommendations, the draft guidelines make it compulsory for the institutions to approve the NEP-proposed dual degree programme.
Clustering of colleges
In order to counter poor enrollment rates and lack of resources, the guidelines recommend that colleges form a cluster unit to share resources and offer courses and programmes across the spectrum for the students. This cluster unit of colleges can then become a single autonomous unit of degree-awarding colleges. The guidelines mention that a cluster of government colleges will work under a Board of Governors, whose Chairman will be appointed by the state government. The course tuition fee charged for the courses will be as per the respective institution offering the course.