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Impact of NEP on Higher Education

February 22, 2022


The National Education Policy was formulated and launched by the Indian government with the fundamental aim to ensure equitable education for all students in India. After coming into effect on July 29,2020, The NEP has been viewed as a major reform in the Indian education sector, as it seeks to offer a comprehensive framework to meet key milestones in education.

The main aim of the policy is to provide holistic education, including social, emotional, cognitive, and creative skills to students, and improve the overall Gross Enrolment Ratio to 50% by the year 2035. As such, the National Education Policy covers all levels of education from preschool to higher education, including technical and vocational education.

Implementation of the Policy – 5 Key Aspects to Note

The implementation of the NEP 2020 has been steady in the last two years but given the sheer size of India as a country, the pace of penetration has been quite slow. As such, the government has taken several steps to implement the policy at various levels of education, including higher education, which is seen as a major target area in the policy.

Let’s look at the major areas of implementation in 5 key points below:

  1. As part of the policy, the government formed a National Implementation Committee (NIC) to monitor and oversee the implementation of the policy at various levels of education. Since then, the National Implementation Committee has set up multiple task forces to work on the implementation of the policy at various levels.
  2. For higher education in specific, the government has introduced several reforms, including the formation of a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) to replace the previous University Grants Commission (UGC). The Higher Education Commission of India will essentially focus on nurturing and promoting innovation and dedicated research in higher education. The HECI is the apex body responsible for regulating and bringing in innovative policies in higher education institutions of the country.
  3. The government has also announced that one of the highlights of the policy is to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education from 26.3% to 50% by 2035, a major milestone that can positively impact higher education and open-up the right career opportunities for students pursuing higher education.
  4. Another key policy highlight in the National Education Policy is the government’s announcement to introduce a new four-year undergraduate program with multiple exit options. The program will fundamentally focus on skill development and offer a degree of flexibility to students in choosing their course of study.
  5. The government also announced that it will introduce a common entrance examination with scholarships for admissions to all universities and colleges. This will ensure that students are admitted to top educational institutions based on merit rather than their ability to pay for expensive courses and admit themselves through management quotas.

These above points spell out the NEP’s key highlights and what it seeks to achieve. Let’s now look at
the outcome of the policy.

Outcome of the National Education Policy on Higher Education

The NEP 2020 has had quite an impact on the Indian education ecosystem ever since it came into inception.

In this section, let’s look at some key outcomes of the NEP.

  1. One of the fundamental aims of the policy is to promote and make skill-based training backed by solid academic research, a norm. Since its formulation, the policy has emphasized the fundamental need for skill-based training, promoting dedicated research, and encouraging the adoption of new and innovative teaching methods to capture the interest of students and improve engagement in higher education.
  2. The introduction of the HECI is expected to bring about significant changes in the regulation of higher education institutions. The HECI will mainly focus on promoting research and innovation to ensure that the quality of education in higher education institutions is up to standard.
  3. The expected increase in the Gross Enrolment Ratio (which is pretty low currently) in higher education will give a boost to the number of students who receive a college education. This is certain to have a positive impact on the Indian economy with more skilled professionals entering the workforce.
  4. The introduction of the new four-year undergraduate program with multiple exit options will provide students with the flexibility to choose their course of study. This will enable students to pursue their interests and will promote skill-based learning. The introduction of a common entrance examination for admissions to all universities and colleges will ensure that students are admitted based on their merit rather than their ability to pay for expensive coaching classes.

Key Challenges in Implementing the Policy

Although the implementation of the NEP has been steady, the progress of penetration has been quite slow owing to several challenges. The government must ensure to overcome these challenges to ensure maximum penetration.

Let’s look at some key challenges that the government has been facing in implementing the National
Education Policy for higher education.

  1. One of the major challenges that’s hampering the widespread and comprehensive implementation of the policy is the lack of infrastructure and resources. Many schools and colleges lack basic facilities like classrooms, libraries, and laboratories, which interferes negatively with the adoption of new and innovative teaching and learning methods.
  2. The next big challenge is the dearth of trained and quality teachers who can make an impact on students’ learning and development. This is true especially in the case of higher education – the lack of quality teachers has been hindering the implementation of the policy in full swing.
  3. While the NEP is doing its part in significantly changing the learning ecosystem in India, it still faces the severe problem of lack of infrastructure in schools and colleges. Although there are tons of colleges offering higher education courses and degrees, they lack basic facilities like proper water, latest versions of resources including books, and teaching standards. Problems with respect to lack of infrastructure are also a distasteful problem in government-run Indian schools in remote cities and towns in India.
  4. Another key challenge that the NEP faces is the lack of effective implementation of the policy at local levels. This again is true with respect to higher education, as lack of effective implementation can have cascading effects on the future of students. It’s true that the policy was formulated and launched by the central government. But the onus is on the states to effectively implement the policy and ensure maximum penetration.

Having observed the key challenges pertaining to the policy, let’s look at some key achievements of the NEP in the next session.

Achievements of the National Education Policy

Despite the challenges, the NEP 2020 has achieved significant milestones in the last two years.

Let’s quickly look at the significant achievements of the National Education Policy.

  1. The policy has encouraged the use of using technology in learning and development. This particularly enabled schools and colleges to conduct uninterrupted online learning classes during the pandemic.
  2. The government has introduced many programs under the policy as an initiative. Government programs like DIKSHA and SWAYAM are doing their bit to provide free tons of free online education courses to students.
  3. To promote large-scale skill-development, the NEP advocates the introduction of several vocational training courses in schools and colleges. This has expanded the average skill set of students, enabling them to pursue a variety of career options.
  4. Another huge advantage of the NEP is the adoption of international practices in higher education. The standard of education in some European and North American countries is high standard, offering reason to raise the bar in our own domestic ecosystem. This has paved the way for innovative and scalable learning models that can contribute to the enhancement of the mental faculties of students. To support this, the government has signed several MoUs with foreign universities to promote innovation, research, and creative learning in higher education.

Concluding Words

The National Education Policy of 2020 is a major step taken by the Indian government to give the Indian education system a fitting boost. With the fundamental aim to provide a holistic framework for improved learning and personal development, the policy has had quite an impact on the Indian education system in the last two years, especially regarding higher education.

That said, there are still many challenges that linger. Government will execute the policy and improve its penetration is key to building a sustainable ecosystem in the country. Focusing on improving the infrastructure at schools and colleges and improving the availability of key resources is more important than ever.

Overall, the NEP is a step in the right direction for the Indian education system. It has the potential to transform the future of lakhs of Indian students who graduate every year from thousands of Indian colleges.

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