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Implementation plan at higher education institutes

The NEP vision document 2020 was approved by the Union Cabinet of India on 29 July 2020.

education

Sentinel Digital Desk

NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY 2020

TG Sitharam

(Director, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. He can be reached at director@iitg.ac.in)

The NEP vision document 2020 was approved by the Union Cabinet of India on 29 July 2020. On the eve of completing one year after approval of NEP 2020, this article presents an implementation plan of NEP 2020 in higher educational institutions with a national perspective. The National Education Policy – NEP 2020 has opened up the opportunity for a broader range of systemic reforms in the Higher Education Institutions – HEIs, of the country (National Education Policy 2020, MHRD - now renamed as Ministry of Education -MOE). Many institutes have started the implementation of NEP 2020. The vision proposed in the document is to develop 21st-century citizens of the Nation – who are creative and knowledgeable individuals capable of promoting liberty, justice, fraternity, and equality. Such a workforce is also envisioned to fulfil the needs of an enlightened, conscious, knowledgeable, and skilled Nation capable of identifying and solving its problems for long-term sustainability.

NEP 2020 vision document has set up the base for streamlining an array of progressive objectives, which is expected to catalyse the furtherance of academic and research excellence in the institutes of higher education. Such progressive objectives are expected to be attuned to the needs of the development of high-quality science and engineering professionals while addressing the gender parity, alleviating the economic disparity, including the specially-abled, involving the hands-on training to inculcate the arts-of-subsistence, and embedding multidimensional communication and social skills. NEP Implementation plan at HEI's should address how to fill the gaps identified in the higher education system such as fragmented higher education ecosystem, how to increase emphasis on the development of cognitive skills in the curriculum, and, how to empower the teacher and institutional autonomy. Further, it should emphasize the role of high-end research, increasing the vocational training exposure, increase the quality in undergraduate education, betterment of governance, and plan for inclusion of weaker economic sections, women participation among others, which may need a broader range of systemic reforms in HEI's.

The highly skilled human resources graduating from the Institutes are envisioned to lead the country in the realm of cutting-edge science and technology in one limit while nurturing translation to the other through entrepreneurial initiatives. This workforce may also generate large-scale employment for the youth through startups in setting up unicorns. The pathways to autonomy and advancements of the Institutes are also interlinked in realizing such Progressive objectives, which include,

(a) Establishing state-of-art facilities for research and teaching.

(b) Bringing in quality human resources at various levels of faculty, staff, and students.

(c) Promoting freedom of expression and intellect.

(d) Explore cutting-edge science and translation.

(e) Economic self-sustainability.

The Implementation Plan outlines a few focused Progressive objectives (POs) and futuristic reforms synchronized with the directions of NEP 2020, as shown in Figure 1. It may be noted here that the NEP has provided specific verticals under which the POs can be set for the specific Institute. Figure 2 shows schematically the niche areas where Institutions may need to pay particular attention. Thus, point-wise POs have been proposed based on feedback, deliberations, and discussions with a detailed plan for higher educational institutions.

A forward-looking vision to performing higher educational institutions like IIT's and IISc to feature in the top universities and institutes globally by the year 2030. Also, potentially these institutes could be a Multidisciplinary Education and Research University (MERU) in the respective regions connecting all institutes to make these performing institutions from a tower of excellence to a network of excellence. A few targets identified are as follows:

 A flexible curriculum to promote multi-disciplinary education and research.

 Establish state-of-art research facilities in all areas.

 Attract a large number of bright UG/PG students from abroad for Internationalization.

 Well-equipped laboratories.

 Encourage in solving challenging scientific, engineering and social problems.

 Training staff members and improving their management and interpersonal skills.

 Establish an array of Specialized Industrial Labs (SILs).

 Transform Research Park at IIT Guwahati as the next Industrial Hub in the Northeast region connecting South-Asia and Southeast-Asia.

 Encourage translational research, entrepreneurship and spin-off culture.

About Institutional Restructuring and Consolidation as per NEP 2020, IIT's and IISc shall aim to become vibrant multi-disciplinary institutions with larger student enrolments for optimal use of infrastructure and resources. Institutes should also conduct online programmes to enhance Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) with digital delivery to a large number of stakeholders. A holistic and multi-disciplinary education starting in the first and second-year course curriculum itself alongside providing very strong Mathematics and Science foundations in areas such as Quantum Computation, Design, Materials, Energy, Biosciences, Nanosciences, Deep and/or Machine learning, Environmental Sciences, Management, and Healthcare, among others. Students should be encouraged to do early exposure to design thinking while evoking an entrepreneurial spirit.

The graduates to work in the multi-disciplinary fields should focus on the needs of the nation while becoming globally competitive. The core agenda in this regard should be aligned with United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the heart. An Optimal Learning Environments and Support for Students shall be provided involving industry experts to frequently interact with the students as a part of the curriculum so that they are industry-ready before graduating. To fulfil these objectives, we need motivated, energized and capable faculty. While selecting faculty, a very high standard of quality should be followed with equity and inclusion in Higher Education institutions. Participation of the faculty and staff members to attain academic excellence matching the elite global standards should be encouraged, A continuous professional development plan to be set up for all faculty members with training for 'instructors' in educational technology, pedagogy, and educational psychology. For the betterment in research and teaching of these faculty in higher education, we need to improve Faculty Development Programs and provide sufficient funds for Faculty members to be fully competitive to submit their research work to top-notch open access publications and filing of National and International patents. Independent and self-governed faculty members with ethical leadership, who drive the educational changes, are to be recognized.

Higher education institutions should catalyse Quality Academic Research in all Fields to match the top-class international standards, with competitive projects, targeting a challenging research problem where multi-disciplinary collaboration is mandatory. Faculty and students should be encouraged to publish their research output and supported regularly for dissemination through top-class journals following all principles of Intellectual property rights and ethical standards. As per NEP 2020, a welcome move is the setting up of the National Research Foundation (NRF), which is expected to change the way funding will be made available for researchers across disciplines. Higher education institutions should re-imagine Vocational Education and actively participate in various skill development programs in collaboration with different wings of the Ministry of Skills and Ministry of Rural Development. In this direction, Institutes should aim to run Certified Courses on NSDC, PMKVY, and NSQF; and more footprints of 'Skill India' and 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' programs inside their HEI's campuses. Policies laid down in NEP 2020, is expected to transform the Regulatory System of Higher Education to become an autonomous self-governing institute with the formation of Independent Board of Governors to fully govern research and academic with full administrative and financial autonomy. Even the appointments to higher education institutions (like BOG chairman and members, Director/VCs, and Deans) should be free of controversies and it should be in pursuit of excellence by engaging high-capacity people with commitment. Concisely, higher education institutes should be enabled to catch up with the state-of-art academic and industrial research in the various fields. NEP 2020 emphasizes that the HEIs are supposed to take necessary action in the following areas to revitalize the educational ecosystem, as summarized in Figure 3. The Implementation plan, considering the recommendations of NEP 2020, emphasizes the need for optimal sequencing, phase-wise planning, and comprehensiveness in implementing the targets fixed by the HEIs, as highlighted in Figure 4 and continuous assessment on the execution of each task.

Finally, some rational targets should be set up showing phase-wise implementation plan with an aim towards achieving academic excellence in the next decade to realize the dream of becoming a global hub of academic excellence and they are:

 Feature among the top institutes in the country and globally.

 Iteratively develop a robust and partition-free multi-disciplinary program.

 Increase the footprint of international students.

 High-end breakthrough research from the Institute.

 More patents and transfer-of-technologies/licensing of products in the translational research.

 Autonomy, self-sustainability, and gender equality in administration and governance.

A rational plan would benefit all the universities in the country to successfully implement NEP 2020. (PIB)

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