Published: 17th January 2023
UGC Chairman on 'one nation, one exam', CUET, NEP 2020 and more
A few IITs have started working on establishing their campuses abroad and UGC is preparing regulations to allow Indian universities to set up campuses abroad
According to University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar, the new draft regulation making it "possible" for foreign universities to establish campuses here will allow students who could not go abroad owing to family or financial circumstances to stay in India and attend classes at a foreign university. A few European universities are already in talks to do so.
In an interview with The New Indian Express, the Chairman discussed new initiatives, the second edition of CUET and the internationalisation of education. He stated that while there is currently no plan to introduce a ‘one nation, one entrance exam’, it is still important to discuss and debate the idea. Excerpts:
The new draft regulations will now allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India? How will this help Indian students who have been flocking to foreign shores for quality education? In 2022 alone, nearly 4.5 lakh students left abroad for higher studies. Soon, more than a million students are expected to leave India for higher studies. While many of these students may continue to go, there are others who also wish to go but cannot due to family or financial situations. Can we provide an opportunity for them to stay in India but study on the campus of a foreign university? UGC's new regulation makes that a possibility, which is completely in tune with the objectives of NEP 2020 on the internationalisation of higher education.
How many such foreign universities have shown interest in setting up campuses in India? We have received many queries with suggestions that they would be interested in considering this as an important possibility once the regulations are announced. Some countries from Europe are already in discussion with us. We are hopeful that many foreign universities will take advantage of this opportunity to meet the aspirations of students in the world's second-largest education system.
NEP 2020 emphasised on internationalisation of education. What is being done in this direction so that Indian universities set up campuses abroad? Already few IITs have started working on establishing their campuses abroad. UGC also is preparing the regulations to enable Indian universities to set up their campuses abroad. There are two categories of countries that look attractive for setting up our Indian campuses — countries with a large Indian diaspora and those that look to India to establish our campuses. Work is in progress.
UGC has been working on the idea of "one nation, one entrance exam." What is the status? NEP 2020 advocates reducing the burden on students by reducing the number of entrance exams. Otherwise, our students are forced to take multiple entrance examinations. The introduction of the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) is a step in that direction. Instead of conducting their entrance tests, many universities have joined CUET, reducing the burden on students.
I mentioned looking at the possibility of merging JEE, NEET and CUET some time ago. But that was only an idea. There is no plan yet to introduce a "one nation, one entrance exam", but we need to discuss and debate it.
The maiden Common Universities Entrance Test (CUET), touted as a single-window solution to cumbersome college admissions, had a bumpy start in 2022. What steps are being taken so that the second edition goes glitch-free? NTA has already announced the test schedule for CUET-UG and CUET-PG well in advance this year. Preparations are afoot to identify nearly 1000 test centres across the country. But we need only about 450 - 500 centres each day. Therefore, we expect smooth sailing for CUET in 2023. There will be no change in the pattern of CUET.
What more is in the pipeline? The forthcoming year 2023 will see the announcement of a major reform, that is, the National Higher Education Qualification Framework, which will underline the qualifications based on the demonstrated achievements of learning outcomes and academic standards expected of graduates of a programme of study. It will also ease the integration of vocational education into higher education. Further, launching the National Credit Framework as a single meta-framework will integrate credits from school, higher and vocational education and experiential learning.
The universities will also implement the option of multiple entry and exit facilitated through the Academic Bank of Credits (ABCs) and provide the students immense flexibility and choice of subjects for their learning. The National Digital University, likely to be established on the hub and spoke model, will offer a whole gamut of qualifications and bring together various universities with no upper cap on the number of seats so that +2 passed out students can access higher education, improving the GER (full form?) in the country.
Universities will be encouraged to incorporate the Indian Knowledge System (IKS) into higher education curricula per the guidelines of the UGC. Universities are expected to develop an Institutional Development Plan with multifaceted interfaces to look into the institution's perspective holistically and enable them to develop initiatives, assess their progress and reach the goals set therein. Getting a Twinning, Joint or Dual Degree with academic collaborations between Indian and foreign HEIs will help Indian students get internationally relevant education in India.
The UGC will facilitate the brand building of Indian HEIs by promoting them to open their campuses abroad to strengthen their international presence. In the recommendation of the NEP 2020, select foreign HEIs will be facilitated to open their campuses in India so that international-level education is provided at affordable costs.
There have been charges that the government has been trying to saffronise the education system and also trying to encroach on the state's power. UGC is doing everything possible to implement NEP 2020 to its fullest. NEP 2020 has been formulated after wider consultations and there is overwhelming support for the direction laid by NEP 2020 to transform our educational system in India. We must collaborate to provide high-quality, affordable education to all our students with equity and greater access. That is the only way our students can become future-ready to make our country a developed nation.