Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to transform the Indian education landscape, by helping students studying under a new curriculum drawn from the National Education Policy (NEP) will come to pass in the year 2022. The NEP replaces the 34-year old policy of 1986 and aims to pave way for transformational reforms in the country. For those wondering the meaning of NEP; It’s a policy that proposes sweeping changes including opening up of Indian higher education to foreign universities, dismantling of the UGC and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the introduction of a four-year multidisciplinary undergraduate programme with multiple exit options, and discontinuation of the M Phil programme. In a video conference asserting that the new curriculum will be forward-looking, future ready and scientific, the PM said, “NEP will give a new direction to the country in the 21st century, sowing the seeds for a new era.” In a few years from now, we will witness parents of children who will be in the first batch of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) and the new assessment pattern under the 5+3+3+4 system, which replaces the 10+2 system.
Academic experts and researchers believe the government’s intention to deepen the capital pool for the education sector by promoting foreign direct investments (FDI) and opening up the ECB (external commercial borrowing) route may go a long way to improving the quality of education in the country. As we know, the entire curriculum for B-schools will be re-worked and is certainly going to be more rigorous and skill-oriented than before. Most importantly, practical knowledge, applications and blended learning will be the main focus in NEP 2020. Also, there isn’t going to be UGC, AICTE, NCTE with the NEP in action. We will just have one single overarching umbrella body for entire higher education, which is the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) where both public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards. The Government will make it mandatory to discontinue the affiliation of colleges in 15 years alongside a stage by stage mechanism that would be established for graded autonomy to colleges.
Well, to continue to be successful, B-schools across the country will not only have to map the curriculum and pedagogy but be equipped with human competencies to run the programmes as well. so, how are the Indian B schools gearing up for this huge transformation? Are there any strategies they’re coming up with? We spoke to a few leading private universities in India and they shared with us details about how they’re future ready for the same.
T. A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI), one of India’s premier B-schools with the prestigious double crown accreditation (AACSB, AMBA) commenced the academic year for the batch of 2020-22 in August 2020. Prof. Aditya Jadhav of TAPMI believes continuous improvement and experiential learning would be the key factors to ensure success with the proposed NEP, in the coming years. He says, “TAPMI has already invested heavily in digital education and has procured Coursera licenses for all the students.” The institute aims to allow students to access courses offered across the world in addition to the knowledge imparted at TAPMI. By giving such additional courses for free, the students are further equipped to face the outside world like the foreign universities. “TAPMI also encourages its students to take up more multidisciplinary courses and courses in liberal Arts to develop their social understanding. We’ve also introduced live projects and flexible internships as part of our curriculum,” he added.
Currently, India has very few foreign students when compared to its counterparts such as the UK, USA, France, Australia, etc. According to the recent statistics, India is now home to nearly 48,000 international students, which it aims to grow to 200,000 over a period of time. Nepal contributed the most foreign students, followed by Afghanistan, Bangladesh, sudan, Bhutan, Nigeria and the US. The government believes that a joint effort by universities and changes suggested in the NEP will help change this situation. Thus, one of the most important goals of NEP is to set up campuses of foreign universities in the country so our future youth could benefit and receive global exposure. NEP 2020 document states that it opens doors to the top 100 Global Universities of the World to set up campuses in India. There is no doubt that the B-school students will benefit tremendously from the NEP 2020 as they will get the necessary exposure and experience of the real business world but how are the existing B-schools going to tackle this new challenge from its counterparts?
Some say promoting research collaborations and student exchange between Indian and foreign universities in B-schools will make Indian Universities a global leader in the education sector. Dr. Naveen Das, Dean Academics, Adamas University, Kolkata is of the same opinion. He affirms, “The future belongs to those who can create value for the nation by being productive in terms of application of knowledge. The curricular integration of subjects and relevant skills right from early schooling will ensure bridging of the knowing-doing gap among students and future citizens. so, in my opinion, the new curriculum is not only imperative but given its practicality, it will work well as a right step towards nation-building and our dream to be a developed economy in the near future.”
Adamas University, one of the most responsive private universities in the Eastern part of India, has also introduced the concept of minor areas along with the major domains of education. Essentially, it allows students to choose one area, apart from his/her domain while studying with the University. It not only makes students multi-dimensional in thinking and action but also enhances perspectives and ability to accept uncertainty and ambiguity in the environment.
With a vision of reforming the education sector and its pedagogy, NEP 2020 notes, “Education thus, must move towards less content, and more towards learning about how to think critically and solve problems, how to be creative and multidisciplinary, and how to innovate, adapt, and absorb new material in the novel and changing fields. Pedagogy must evolve to make education more experiential, holistic, integrated, inquiry-driven, discovery-oriented, learner-centered, discussion-based, flexible, and, of course, enjoyable.”
ICFAI (IBS) is one of the best B-schools in the country, providing excellent academic delivery and infrastructure to its students. They’re already offering innovative and globally accepted programs and great opportunities for all-round development. Their 100% case-based learning is unique and are already in the business of transforming its students into leaders of the future. Would they need any special strategy? Dr. Debapratim Purkayastha of ICFAI says, “We are entrenching the case method of teaching deeper into our curriculum to provide engaging, holistic, and impactful education. Developing and using real-world cases on contemporary and critical issues facing the world helps adopt a multidisciplinary approach to teaching, resulting in holistic education.”
He further shared that their focus has not only been on preparing their students for the rapid changes on the digital or technology front by integrating contemporary topics such as AI, Ml, big data, etc., but also to bring into the classroom problems that are critical to today’s world – such as corruption, inequality, climate change, sustainability, etc., which increases their students’ social and moral awareness and preparedness to tackle these issues. They completely believe ICFAI’s approach is in line with NEP as it enables the development of vital skills through a focus on critical and interdisciplinary thinking, analysis, discussion, debate, with plenty of scope for individual creativity and collaboration.
“Our approach help create leaders who are not only industry-ready but also future-ready; both in terms of the training they need in order to thrive in the fast-changing digital/technological landscape, and also in terms of their capability to understand and consider the social/environmental/ethical dimensions of their decisions/actions. These skill sets and values would be crucial in a post-pandemic world, where sustainability is likely to be prioritized. Moreover, since our cases and pedagogical research outputs are used in nearly a thousand of the world’s best institutions across nearly 100 countries each year, it reinforces India’s position as a creator of educational impact for the world. And since our students are also taught with the same cases, it contributes towards NEP’s goal of ‘internationalization at home’,” he further said.
The impact of NEP 2020 is going to be tremendous on both students and universities across India. only time will tell if it would further boost the education sector or not but until then, let us positively step towards a great future, knowing the future of education in India is bright, and these new laws are going to be the lifelines of the Indian Education sector.