UGC Chairman and veteran academic, Professor M. Jagadesh Kumar, on Friday, while discussing a vista of issues including the New Education Policy and plans to enable overseas varsities set up campuses in the country, said that the newly introduced dual degrees will make global education affordable for Indian students.
In an interview with IANS, Kumar talked about various issues like a four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP), campuses of foreign universities, 6,000 vacant posts of teachers in Central universities, implementation of a new Education Policy (NEP) and major changes coming in 2023 in universities.
Q. The teacher-student ratio still needs to improve in Central universities, including the University of Delhi. What is UGC doing to improve the balance?
A: Shortage of quality teaching faculty is one of the many issues presently confronting the higher education system. The total number of sanctioned teaching posts in Central Universities under the purview of UGC is 18,956, with 12,776 posts filled and 6180 posts lying vacant. The occurring of vacancies and filling up is a continuous process. UGC continuously monitors it with the universities. However, the onus of filling up the teaching posts lies on Central Universities, autonomous bodies created under Acts of Parliament. UGC requests all Central Universities to fill vacancies soon in a mission mode. Universities are hiring ad-hoc faculty, guest faculty and contract faculty. Further, UGC has taken a new initiative to bring the industry and other professional expertise into the academic institutions through a new category of positions called ‘Professor of Practice’. UGC has also framed the guidelines for the empanelment of adjunct faculty in universities and colleges.
Q: Is any prominent foreign university going to start its campus in India in 2023?
A: Yes…. Universities from the USA, UK, France, Australia and Italy have expressed their interest. It is expected that once this regulatory provision is announced, well-performing foreign universities featuring in the global ranking will come forward to apply. NEP 2020 has envisioned that top universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India. Enabling provisions for the setting up and operating campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions (FHEIs) in India will provide an international dimension to higher education, permit Indian students to obtain foreign qualifications at an affordable cost, and make India an attractive global study destination.
Q: What are the major new rules and policies which will be implemented by the universities in 2023?
A: The UGC will facilitate the brand building of Indian HEIs by promoting them to open their campuses abroad to strengthen their international presence. The National Digital University, likely to be established on the hub and spoke model, will offer a whole gamut of qualifications and bring together various universities with no upper cap on the number of seats so that +2 passed out students can access higher education. The National Higher Education Qualification Framework will also be implemented in new year. It will ease the integration of vocational education into higher education. Further, launching the National Credit Framework as a single meta-framework will integrate credits from school, higher and vocational education, and experiential learning. The universities will also implement the option of multiple entry and exit facilitated through the Academic Bank of Credits. Universities will be encouraged to incorporate the Indian Knowledge System into higher education. Getting a Twinning, Joint, or dual Degree with academic collaborations between Indian and Foreign HEIs will help Indian students get internationally relevant education in India.
Q: Has UGC approached different countries, seeking support to facilitate academic collaborations? What is the response?
A: So far, 49 foreign HEIs are collaborating with Indian HEIs. UGC has also approached the Ambassadors and Heads of Missions of nearly 66 countries whose universities are eligible for collaboration. These include the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Singapore, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Malaysia, etc. A meeting with select US universities with the support of the Indian Mission and German universities in collaboration with DAAD was organised.
Q: Central universities have adopted provisions of NEP. What is the status of private players and state-run universities?
A: I am happy to share with you that out of 90 participating universities in the Common University Entrance Test (CUET), 43 are central universities, 13 are deemed universities, 21 are private universities, and 13 are state universities. CUET is conducted for both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. The new policy interventions and guidelines apply to all types of universities, whether publicly funded or private. The state public and state private universities are coming forward to implement the various provisions with enthusiasm because providing quality education is the priority of every institution.
Q: What are the new changes being made for foreign students, those who come to India for higher studies?
A: UGC has recently increased the seats for international students to 25 per cent in HEIs, apart from the international students in exchange programmes. Each faculty member can also take two international students in PhD programme as supernumerary positions. The HEIs have established the Office for International Affairs at their campus, which will function as a single point of contact for international students. It will address grievances and help them network with fellow students. Fellowships are being provided to international students by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). Also, the ‘Study in India’ initiative of the Ministry of Education caters to the needs of international students seeking admission in India.
Q: What is the level of acceptance for the FYUP among the students and teachers?
A: Several universities are working to introduce this FYUP. They have the freedom to create their implementation mechanism through their academic and executive councils to facilitate the students to pursue their research interests, creativity, entrepreneurship skills, and innovative skills, leading to better employability.
The FYUP is a tool to implement holistic and multidisciplinary education. It provides an opportunity to focus on the chosen major and minors as per the student’s choices. With the introduction of the ‘Curriculum and Credit Framework for Undergraduate Programme’ by the UGC, the universities have the option of providing an FYUP so that the students can study extensively one or more specialized areas of interest.