Starting this year, the undergraduate honours course will be for four years instead of three years. Scheduled to be initiated in the next academic year, the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) will be implemented in all the universities across West Bengal. This new curriculum spanning four years is a part of this education policy. A new system brings along a baggage of doubts. Distinguished professors from different renowned educational institutions in the state have discussed the nitty-gritty of this four-year curriculum.
Will the 3 year general course now be non-existent? What chances does this new curriculum offer to someone dropping out in the midst of these four years? The former Vice-Chancellor of the State's Information Technology University—MAKAUT, Professor Saikat Mitra, has answered such questions.
former Vice-Chancellor of the State's Information Technology University—MAKAUT, Professor Saikat Mitra discusses NEP 2020
Professor Mitra said, "The new model is based on credit points. 40 credit points in each year of the curriculum will accumulate to a total of 160 credit points at the end of four years. If a student secures 75% or higher marks in the four-year course, they will have the opportunity to pursue research or Ph.D. If a student drops out after three years of study, they will be a graduate but will not receive an honours degree. Completing the four-year course will result in an honours degree. Under the old system, if someone dropped out in the middle of the course, they are not considered a graduate. In the new system, if someone is compelled to drop out during the course, they will have the option to resume their studies later, even to pursue honours. The accumulated credit points will be stored in the bank and can be used later when continuing the remaining course."
What additional benefits will be available in the four-year curriculum?
Detailing on the same, Professor Mitra stated, "Many countries worldwide already have such arrangements. This new system will facilitate the integration of international level studies and collaborations. In the future, foreign students will be able to continue their studies here in India and maintain their records. Similarly, if a domestic student drops out of a course here, they can resume their studies abroad using those records. This system encourages higher education to focus on research and development."
The opportunity to conduct research after completing the four-year course is not new in this country. Saikat Mitra informed, "Calcutta University or Jadavpur University already had such provisions in engineering courses. Under this, after completing the four-year course, students can have the opportunity to conduct research after passing a few examinations. It can be said that this provision is now being expanded through the new education policy."
What is the National Bank of Credits that the New Educational Policy talks about? How does this affect students?
Cecil Antony, the Chief Mentor of NSHM Knowledge Campus, sheds light on the programme
Regarding the National Bank of Credit mentioned in the new education policy, Cecil Antony, the Chief Mentor of NSHM Knowledge Campus, shed some light on it. He said, "Currently, students in various universities take different courses, and the information and certificates get scattered. To understand what a particular student has studied, one has to refer to their individual mark sheets. The new education policy is establishing a centralized repository where the students' credit points will be stored, regardless of the university they are studying in. When looking at this central repository, anyone can easily access the academic history of a student. This will bring about transparency in the entire process. Even corporate organizations can use this information while recruiting new employees."
In the context of the new education policy, it has been mentioned about implementing 'Multidisciplinary' education. What does it mean for a student to pursue higher education in another subject after completing their undergraduate degree in one subject? In simple terms, can a Health Sciences student take a course in Media Studies?
Regarding this matter, Professor Krishnendu Sarkar, Director, NSHM Knowledge Campus, said, "Certainly! For this, there are provisions for audit courses and bridge courses in the new education policy."
Professor Krishnendu Sarkar, Director, NSHM Knowledge Campus talks about the opportunities created by the National Education Policy
In the new education policy, even if someone deviates from their chosen field of study midway, they still retain the opportunity to resume it later. So, some students undergoing courses in the old curriculum have questions about whether they can resume their studies in the new curriculum, if they had to deviate from it. On this matter, Professor Sarkar stated that the old and new curricula are prepared separately, so it won't be possible to switch from the old curriculum to the new one. Students will have to be enrolled anew. The four-year undergraduate curriculum is well-established abroad, especially in the United States. India's new education policy will help align the country's education with international standards and aid students in pursuing higher education globally.
In the new education policy, the four-year undergraduate curriculum highlights significant opportunities for research. However, Professor Sarkar clarified that completing the four-year curriculum does not guarantee the ability to conduct serious research. That decision will be made by the relevant university. Not every qualified student will get the opportunity to study at a specific university. The UGC-approved open universities can also avail such benefits in this education policy.
The bright aspect of the national education policy, according to Professor Sarkar, is that it will create an environment of exchange between teachers and students among universities. Also, the relationship between educational institutions and the industry will not be limited only to providing placements. It is hoped that there will also be opportunities for research-oriented work.
rofessor Dr. Mahul Brahma, the Dean of NSHM Media School, comments on the multiple entry-exit system as per the NEP 2020
The students have some questions about how the multiple entry-exit system in the national education policy will work.
Professor Dr Mahul Brahma, the Dean of NSHM Media School, commented, "The multiple entry-exit system is an integral part of the 2020 education policy. Its advantage is that a student can leave at any year of their undergraduate studies and return within a stipulated time. At the end of the first year, the student will receive a Certificate, a Diploma at the end of the second year, a Bachelor's degree at the end of the third year, and an Honours degree along with a Bachelor's degree at the end of the fourth year. Thus, in the new system, a student will gain value in each step, reflecting a year's worth of learning. There will be a chance to start the next phase of studies within seven years of completing one year of study. This proposal has been presented in the new arrangement, in which post-graduation will be a one-year course. If someone completes an undergraduate honours degree, they can pursue post-graduation. If their grades are good, they can also go directly into research."
If someone wants to forego post-graduation after completing the four-year undergraduate curriculum, what opportunities do they have according to Professor Brahma? He said, "At the end of the fourth year of the new curriculum, there shall be sufficient scope for industry internship. As a result, even if someone does not pursue post-graduation, it will not be difficult for them to find a job."
In his opinion, this national education policy will play a significant role in reducing the number of educated unemployed individuals.
This report is published in a joint venture with NSHM Knowledge Campus.