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NEP 2020: Foreign universities now allowed to set up campuses in India

New Delhi: The Indian government on Wednesday paved the way for foreign universities to set up campuses in the country as the Cabinet approved the new national education policy.

In the country's history, this is the third Education Policy after 1968 and 1986. It promotes an increase in the number of off-shore campuses of Indian institutions and states that the world's top 100 foreign universities will be "facilitated" to operate in India through a new law.

According to the HRD Ministry document, listing salient features of policy, "such (foreign) universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India."

"Internationalization of education will be facilitated through both institutional collaborations, and student and faculty mobility and allowing entry of top world-ranked Universities to open campuses in our country," said HRD Secretary Amit Khare.

Choice between 3 or 4 year undergraduate courses, multiple entry and exit options in degree courses, adding 3.5 crore seats in higher education institutions which will now have a single regulator, discontinuation of MPhil programmes and fixation of fees are among the higher education reforms outlined in the new National Education Policy (NEP).

Elaborating on the reforms, Khare said at a press briefing the policy aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3 per cent (2018) to 50 per cent by 2035 and 3.5 crore new seats will be added to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

The undergraduate degree will be of either 3 or 4-year duration with multiple exit options within this period, with appropriate certifications — a certificate after completing 1 year in a discipline or field including vocational and professional areas, a diploma after 2 years of study, or a Bachelor's degree after a 3-year programme.

"The 4-year multidisciplinary bachelor's programme shall be the preferred option since it allows the opportunity to experience the full range of holistic and multidisciplinary education in addition to a focus on the chosen major and minors as per the choices of the student," Khare said.

As per the new policy, the system of affiliation will be phased out over 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism for granting graded autonomy to colleges, through a transparent system of graded accreditation, will be established.

Over a period of time, it is envisaged that every college would develop into either an autonomous degree-granting college, or a constituent college of a university.

The policy has called for a single higher education regulator called Higher Education Commission of India (HECI). However, medical and legal colleges will be kept out of its purview.

Among the key reforms in the policy are common entrance exam for admissions to universities and colleges to be conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), discontinuation of MPhil programmes, common norms to be in place for private and public higher education institutions and fee fixation under a broad regulatory framework.

To ensure the preservation, growth, and vibrancy of all Indian languages, NEP has recommended setting an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI), National Institute (or Institutes) for Pali, Persian and Prakrit, strengthening of Sanskrit and all language departments in HEIs, and use of mother tongue or local language as a medium of instruction in more HEI programmes.

"An Academic Bank of Credit is to be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned. Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, will be set up as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.

"The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education," Khare said.

Board exams to be made easy, school curriculum to be reduced to core concepts

Making board exams easy, reduction of curriculum to core concepts, replacement of 10+2 structure of school curricula with a 5+3+3+4 structure and medium of instruction up to class 5 in mother tongue or regional language, are among the many school education reforms outlined in the new National Education Policy.

Elaborating on the reforms, School Education Secretary Anita Karwal said at a briefing, "Board exams for classes 10 and 12 will be continued, but will be reformed to eliminate the need for taking coaching classes".

She further said, "Board exams will be redesigned to encourage holistic development and will also be made easier by testing core capacities and competencies. All students will be allowed to take board exams on up to two occasions during any given school year, one main examination and one for improvement, if desired. All students will take school examinations in classes 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority".

A per the new policy, the 10+2 structure of school curricula is to be replaced with a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to age groups 3-8, 8-11, 11-14 and 14-18 years respectively.

"This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of anganwadi and pre-schooling," she said

The new system will cover four stages — Foundational Stage (three years of anganwadi or pre-school followed by classes 1-2), Preparatory Stage (classes 3-5), Middle Stage (classes 6-8) and Secondary Stage (classes 9-12).

"Students will have increased flexibility and choice of subjects so that they choose their own paths according to their talents and interests. There will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams.

"The objective is to give equal emphasis on all subjects — science, social sciences, art, languages, sports, mathematics — with integration of vocational and academic streams in school," Karwal said. The NEP has laid emphasis on promoting multilingualism so that children know and learn about the rich and vast array of languages of their country. "The medium of instruction until at least class 5, but preferably till class 8 and beyond, will be the home language, mother tongue, local language and regional language.

"Sanskrit will be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an important, enriching option for students, including as an option in the three-language formula. Foreign languages, such as Korean, Japanese, Thai, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian, will also be offered at the secondary level," Karwal said.

The states and UTs will be required to set up independent State School Standards Authority (SSSA).

"Transparent public self-disclosure of all the basic regulatory information, as laid down by the SSSA, will be used extensively for public oversight and accountability. The SCERT will develop a School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF) through consultations with all stakeholders," she added.

States will prepare their own curricula and prepare textbooks incorporating state flavour and material. The availability of textbooks in all regional languages will be a top priority. Reducing the weight of school bags and textbooks will also be ensured by suitable changes in curriculum load.

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