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Quality Improvement and curriculum management in higher education in India: perspective and challenges Abstract Prof. (Mrs.) Pranati Panda The system of higher education which is built on the premises of quality and equity is central to success in the emerging knowledge economy. India today has a large and complex higher education system. Quality in higher education largely depends on the disciplinary knowledge domains, curriculum, courses, quality of its teaching learning process, evaluation and credit transfer practices and above all the institutional performance. Keeping these perspectives in view, the paper gives an overview of quality improvement in higher education in the context of global competitiveness, privatization and internationalization. The paper further presents an analytical perspective of the policy pronouncements, a series of policy initiatives concerned with higher education curriculum reforms and extent of its implementations in reshaping curriculum and syllabi at under graduate and post graduate education level of higher education. As a land mark ,the National Policy on Education (NPE, 1986), very explicitly states that higher education has to become dynamic in the context of the unprecedented explosion of knowledge and there will be increasing flexibility in the combination of courses. Policy initiatives and plan perspectives to re-shape higher education curricula are discussed in the paper. The responsibility of assuring quality in higher education is entrusted with the University Grants Commission and National Assessment and Accreditation Council. Reflecting on the quality improvement and curriculum reform in higher education, eleventh five year plan (2007-12) has noted that quality improvement in higher education will be brought about through restructuring academic programmes to ensure their relevance to modern market demands; domestic and global linkages with employers and the curriculum will be in tune with job market dynamics and advancement in research. It further recommended the syllabi in higher education system will be revised at least once in every three years. The trends in curricular reforms have been analyzed in two premises. The reform leading to expansion of disciplinary knowledge domains during the last few years are found in favour of those courses of study that have high market demands and high economic payoff. The participation of private sector in higher education, to a greater extend, are introducing new courses on above mentioned premises. Secondly restructuring the curriculum of exiting the courses in the context of globalization , internationalization and localization has remained a challenge for many universities. The paper presents current mechanism of curricular reforms across different types of universities. The analysis of the present practice in curriculum reform further reveals that the syllabi of different courses have remained unchanged for years. Board of studies and academic council of the universities are responsible for structure and content of the curriculum. The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), sub committee on autonomy of higher education institutions had conducted a survey in which eighty percent of the respondent from the academic community found the existing system to be in order revealing the fact that academic community is not demanding transformation of curricular reforms in regular interval .The centralized process for changing curricula in the universities in India is painfully difficult and slow. The rigid academic structure and cumbersome process for changing curriculum is considered as a prime obstacle in reforming courses. Further department serving in island of isolation is another obstacle for introducing new vision and perspectives of curricular reforms. The National Knowledge Commission report (2006) contains a compendium of curricular concerns relating to the quality of higher education. This includes such aspects as a rigid and compartmental curricular structure, outdated teaching, learning and evaluation practices; obsolete course contents; lack of mobility within and outside the institutions; and so on. Hence curriculum development procedures are confined to syllabus construction and revision. Hence theoretically curriculum development is based on topical approach, conceptual approach and thematic approach. An attempt has also been made to discuss innovative trends in curriculum development with inter-disciplinary perspectives in some central universities in India. Gradually universities and specialized institutes are moving from subject specific boundary to multidisciplinary perspectives. Two discourses, a credit-accumulation-and-transfer discourse and a disciplinary discourse, which are in the process of shaping higher education in India are discussed critically. Paper also substantiates the innovative trends citing the examples of two new up coming university. The present discourse on improving quality in higher education through curricular reform in India very well reflected in the recent policy document such as Knowledge Commission Report, The Report of ‘The Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education’ and eleventh plan approach paper on higher education. The paper also critically analyses the recommendations of the above commissions and report and places road map for developing curriculum at the higher education level. The Report of ‘The Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education’ explicitly recommends that it would be necessary that the universities adopt a curricular approach which treats knowledge in a holistic manner and creates exciting opportunities for different kinds of interfaces between the disciplines, which is unthinkable today in most of the universities and institutions of higher learning. It would also be necessary that the university education is seen in its totality and subject areas not be designed in isolation. The strategy of syllabus redesigning to succeed, evaluation and examination practices will also have to change. The paper further argues for developing a national curricular framework for higher education dealing with core curricular concerns having inbuilt time bound reforms. The university will have the functional autonomy to innovate and introduce context specificity. Higher Education in India: Roles and Challenges The historic functions performed by universities have been knowledge creation, .knowledge transmission and knowledge conservation. In the contemporary period, the teaching mission of the university is a central responsibility. The goal is to educate people to work effectively in the increasingly technological world-that is to provide technical skills needed for a growing number of jobs and professions and an education that instills the ability to think critically. Universities have from time to time also been functioning as the central institutions for nation building, research and training. It is also seen as the instrument for social mobility. A university is a place where new ideas germinate, strike roots and grow tall and sturdy. It is a unique space, which covers the entire universe of knowledge. It is a place where creative minds converge, interact with each other and construct visions of new realities. Established notions of truth are challenged in the pursuit of knowledge. The university has also been regarded as the trustee of the humanist traditions of the world and it constantly endeavors to fulfill its mission by attaining universal knowledge, which can be done only by transcending geographical, cultural and political boundaries. By doing so, it affirms the need for all cultures to know each other and keeps alive the possibilities of dialogue among them. It is also important to remember that the university aims to develop a scholarly and scientific outlook. This outlook involves the ability to set aside special interests for the sake of impartial analysis. Standing for more than specific factual knowledge, a scientific outlook calls for an analytical and questioning attitude an
d the continuous exercise of reason. All this requires us to go beyond specialized knowledge and competence. This universal approach to knowledge demands that boundaries of disciplines be porous and scholars be constantly on guard against the tendency towards ‘cubicalization’ of knowledge. Apart from resisting fragmentation of knowledge, the idea of a university should at the same time aspire to encompass the world of work in all its forms. Work constitutes the human sphere where knowledge and skills are born, and where new knowledge takes shape in response to social and personal needs. Indeed, the experience and culture of work represents that core space where the humanities and the sciences meet. (The Report of ‘The Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education) India stands at a critical juncture in history, a period when population dynamics have the potential to catapult it onto a trajectory of high growth and inclusive development. Translating potential into actuality will require massive concerted efforts at expanding the opportunities for self-realisation. Higher education is a crucial input for access to better opportunities in life and needs to be viewed as a long-term social investment for the promotion of economic growth, cultural development, social cohesion, equity and justice. Indian higher education system comprises 408 universities (25 central,243 state and 1056 Deemed University ),33 institutes of National importance and 20,064 colleges catering to 123.77 lakhs students with an annual growth rate of five percent. Out of 123.77 lakhs students,50.25 lakhs have women students constituting 40.60 percent. The enrolment process in the cademic yar 2007-08 reveals that majority of students in the higher education system had been enrolled for a variety of courses at the under-graduate level. The students at this level constitute provisionally 89.15 percent of the total number of students in colleges and universities put together. The percentage of students enrolled for Masters level courses had been 9.29 percent while a very small proportion i.e., 0.66 percent of the total number of students had been enrolled for research. The largest number of students in the higher education system had been enrolled in affiliated colleges. About 90.34 percent of all the under-graduate students and 66.84 percent of all the post graduate students had been in the affiliated colleges, while the remaining had been in the universities and their constituent colleges. In contrast, 86.89 percent of the research students had been in the universities. There are multiple agencies and a complex web of rules and regulations that govern the higher education system in the country with the UGC as the apex body (Agrwal, 2006). A multiplicity of institutions and rules govern the higher education system in India. Universities are created through legislation by central and state governments. The University Grants Commission is the apex regulatory authority. States bear concurrent responsibility for providing and managing higher education, but there are thirteen professional councils at the national level, five at the state level, state councils, and affiliating universities that regulate the system. The central government has taken the lead role in regulation through the Ministry of Human Resource Development, other ministries such as health for medical education, and different regulatory bodies. Significant contributions in the field of higher education have also been made by research councils Again due to the massive expansion of the system of higher education, a number of professional councils have come up for the management of higher education. These bodies and their role have been summarized in the following table: Table-1: Regulatory and Statutory Bodies for Higher Education in India Name Main role Overlaps with the role of University Grants Commission (UGC) Funding, recognition of institutions and degree titles, maintaining overall standards. Other professional councils and the Distance Education Council (DEC) Distance Education Council (DEC) under the IGNOU Act Funding, maintaining standards of open education Other professional councils and the UGC Council of Architects (CoA) Registration of architects and recognition of institutions for education in architecture and town planning AICTE Medical Council of India (MCI) Registration of medical practitioners and recognition of medical institutions and qualifications State Medical Councils and the State Governments; UGC and DEC to a limited extent Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) Registration of pharmacists and approval of pharmacy institutions AICTE and State Pharmacy Councils Indian Nursing Council (INC) Accepts qualifications awarded by universities within and outside India 22 State Nursing Councils with different Acts have registering powers Dental Council of India (DCI) Recommend to the Central Government for approval of dental colleges etc. Ministry of Health Central Council of Homeopathy (CCH) Maintain Central Register of Homoeopaths. State Councils Central Council of Indian Medicine(CCIM) Maintain central register. State Councils Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) Recognition of institutions for physiotherapy and related fields State governments National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) Recognition of teacher education institutions DEC Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR)* Coordinate and fund agricultural education UGC Bar Council of India (BCI) Listing of Members of Bar State Bar Councils * Not a statutory body Source: Agarwal, 2006, pp. 83. From the above table it is obvious that, there are significant differences in the mandate, powers and functions of the different regulatory and statutory bodies. The councils have rules and regulations of their own. There is a large overlap of their functions with the functions of the UGC, other professional councils and even function of universities in some cases. In five cases, namely – Medical Council of India, Pharmacy Council of India, All India Council for Technical Education, Indian Nursing Council and the Bar Council of India, there are also State Councils; and there are overlaps in functions of the national councils and state councils (Agarwal, 2006, pp.84). As a result of this, there is a fragmentation of higher education system in the Country. Hence to ensure coordination among these bodies the idea of a National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) was mooted. But for some reasons, it has not materialized so far. But whether this new body will help to solve the old problem or will create further complications is a question mark. National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is the leading body for quality assurance and accreditation of higher education institutions in order to introduce transparency and provide information to students and other groups as to the quality of higher education institutions. Similarly, AICTE was established in 1987 for planning, co-ordination, promotion of quality and maintenance of standards of technical education system, including Engineering, Management, Architecture and Pharmacy. Meanwhile the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) was established by All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) in 1994 and was entrusted with the responsibility of quality assurance. The 11th plan also proposed the introduction of a mandatory accreditation system for all educational institutions, creation of multiple rating agencies with a body to rate these rating agencies and department-wise ratings in addition to institutional rating. There are three levels at which quality is dealt with: institutional level, colleges and the university departments. There is also an arrangement for the performance evaluation of teachers in institutions and it is the responsibility of the Universities to assure the quality of education in colleges and post-graduate departments of the universities. At the national level the University grants commission is responsible for the coordination and maintenance of standards of higher education. For various technical and professional disciplines
various Professional Councils have been entrusted with the responsibility of standards of higher education. Therefore, Quality in Higher education has assumed great significance in recent times, particularly in the context of massification and increase in competition due to role of the market forces in higher education. Needs and expectations of the society are changing very fast and the quality of higher education needs to be sustained at the desired level. Quality would mainly depend on the quality of all its facets, be it the Faculty, Staff, Students, Infrastructure, etc. Thus, in future the focus should be on revision and modernization of syllabi, Upgradation of infrastructure, filling up of vacant faculty positions, enhancement of the competencies of staff and greater use of ICT. Quality Assurance and Curriculum Development in Higher Education: Quality has both absolute and relative connotations and quality assurance refers to various procedures that are put in place to ensure the quality of educational provision of a higher education institution. Competition among the institutions, globalization, and commercialization of higher education have made it imperative for quality control measures to be introduced in order to protect students from poor quality education. In many cases, the main objective of the quality assurance mechanism is to verify whether the institution satisfies the quality requirements of fitness for purpose, and fitness of purpose. This quality assurance mechanism can be internal or external to the institution: Internally, the institution sets in place a series of procedures and systems with regard to its educational provision and external quality assurance is usually carried out by a national quality assurance agency. The higher education system in India has grown in a remarkable way, particularly in the post-independence period, to become one of the largest systems of its kind in the world. However, the system has many issues of concern at present, like financing and management including access, equity and relevance, reorientation of programmes by laying emphasis on health consciousness, values and ethics and quality of higher education together with the assessment of institutions and their accreditation. In addition, the complex phenomenon of globalization presents a fundamental challenge to higher education. These issues are important for the country, as it is now engaged in the use of higher education as a powerful tool to build a knowledge-based information society of the 21st Century. Moreover, it is crucial to identify the relative norms for different components of a higher education system. The alternative dynamics for teacher preparation and the sustaining quality in teacher input, like: Curriculum design and development; Curricular practices vis-à-vis emerging principles of pedagogy; Evaluation of learners’ performance and progress vis-à-vis curriculum evaluation; and, quality management practices become crucial. Consequently, during recent times various developments have been witnessed relating to quality assurance mainly through the intervention of information and communications technologies (ICT) in education, like networking of the open learning system with traditional Universities, interdisciplinary interactions at intra-institutional and inter-institutional levels, networking of institutions globally, data based management of higher education, changing the orientation of institutions by incorporating self financing in their financial management, assessment and accreditation of higher education institutions and creation of different statutory and regulatory bodies at the national level. The quality assurance agency for higher education in India is the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), which was established in 1994 by the University Grants Commission and has the responsibility for undertaking both institutional and program accreditation of all higher education institutions in India, public and private, except in the field of agriculture and distance education, in which cases accreditation is carried out by the Accreditation Board and the Distance Educational Council, respectively. In these times of global competitiveness it is important that Indian products of the higher education institutions are as competent as graduates of any other country, not only in their scholastic attainments, but also in terms of value system and personality characteristics. This calls for suitable assessment and accreditation mechanisms to be available in the country to ensure the quality and standard of the academic/training programmes at higher educational institutions. Thus, the assessment has to be continuous and the process has to be transparent to gain the acceptance of the society at large. Curriculum is the crux of the entire educational activity. It is an organized plan of course outlines, along with objectives and learning experiences to be used for the achievement of the desired objectives. Curriculum development is the result of several pressures- economic, social, knowledge explosion, research findings etc. Consequently curriculum must undergo periodical revisions in order to accommodate the changes in the context of the above pressures. There are various approaches of curriculum development: subject-centred curriculum where the subjects are arranged in a systematic and logical sequence corresponding to the maturity of the learners; learner-centred approach which relates to the learners interest and activities are built around the psychological problems rather than logical topics; objective-oriented approach in which the target group is studied using the job or task analysis method in the development of the curriculum; problem-oriented approach in which the problems that impede the fulfillment of the development programme objectives are identified; thematic investigative approach seeks to raise the consciousness of learners who begin to question and inquire into problems. Curriculum development is an evolutionary process and as such to arrive at the final framework which can be adopted on a wider scale, it has to be put through a series of developmental stages. This process normally begins with the task of determining the specific objectives of teaching a particular course of the programme. The specific objectives act as broad parameters for making all further decisions regarding content selection, time allocation, assignment of credits, etc. It is the instructional objectives which act as a guide in determining the scope of a particular study, its breadth and depth, and the expected learning outcomes on the part of the students when they complete the course of study successfully. The changing social, educational and economic environments are the important determinants of curricular options. To meet the challenges, it is necessary that the students should be equipped with besides theoretical knowledge, adequate skill to enable their full participation in the emerging social, economic and cultural environment. The operative part of this paradigm shift is the need for a continuous upgradation of curriculum in order to introduce the latest development relating to various disciplines in the curriculum and its transactional technique. Policy Pronouncements on Quality Improvement and Curriculum Development in Higher Education The structure of higher education consists of three years of education (after 12 years of school education) leading to a bachelor’s degree in arts and science and four years in professional fields like engineering and medicine. This is followed by two years of study for a Master’s degree; and three years at least beyond the Master’s degree for a PhD degree which generally takes longer. There are also postgraduate diploma programmes open to graduates, and certain professional programmes like those in education and law require a first degree as a pre-condition for admission in most places. The present approach to higher education is governed by the “National policy on Education” of 1986 and Program of Action of 1992. The 1986
policy and Action Plan of 1992 was based on the two land mark reports i.e., the “University Education Commission” of 1948-49 (Radhakrishnan Commission), and the “Education Commission” of 1964-66, (Kothari Commission Report). In fact, these two reports laid down the basic framework for the National policy for higher education in the country. The University Education Commission Report had set the goals for development of higher education in the country while the National Policy on higher education (1986) translates the vision of Radhakrishnan and Kothari Commission into five principles goals for higher education which includes: Greater Access, Equal access (or equity), Quality and excellence, Relevance and promotion of social Values. According to the National Policy on Education (1986) higher education, provides people with an opportunity to reflect on the critical social, economic, cultural, moral and spiritual issues facing humanity. It contributes to national development through dissemination of specialised knowledge and skills. As a land mark ,the National Policy on Education (NPE, 1986), very explicitly states that higher education has to become dynamic in the context of the unprecedented explosion of knowledge and there will be increasing flexibility in the combination of courses. The Ramamurti Committee(1992) has recommended that Government should re-examine the feasibility of a national level statutory mechanism in consultation with State Governments for discouraging establishment of substandard Colleges and Universities in the country since independence. With regard to curriculum development it recommended that the work of curriculum development should be decentralised and it should be left to Universities/Colleges to seek assistance of UGC for this purpose. The UGC initiated the scheme of Curriculum Development Centres (CDCs) in 1986 to carry out a thorough review of the existing syllabi and courses in different Universities at various levels of Higher Education and to suggest measures for modernising and restructuring them. The Gnanam Committee has recommended Central legislation which would require prior approval of UGC before starting a new University, but this recommendation has not found favor with many State Governments who feel this will affect their sovereign right to set up new Universities and Colleges according to their educational needs. The proliferation of Colleges without adequate facilities can be curbed to a large extent if the Universities exercise a rigorous control and insist on creation of necessary infrastructure and educational facilities before granting affiliation. The State Governments would also have to respect the decision of Universities in these matters. Further, the Gnanam Committee has recommended that universities should be gradually divested of the responsibility of regulating courses, conducting examinations and awarding degrees for students in affiliated colleges, and left to concentrate on postgraduate education and research programmes. The CABE Committee on Autonomy of Higher Education noted that Higher education system in India covers a wide spectrum of institutions. On the one end, we have premier educational institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, old and established Central and State Universities, on the other, we have newly established universities and colleges in the private sector that are in their formative years. The committee recognized the need to grant autonomy to individual institutions in matters of design of curriculum. Universities may, however, provide a broad framework within which individual faculty members both within the university and in the colleges should be encouraged to innovate and experiment to transform teaching and learning into a fascinating and rewarding experience for them as well as students. Each university should undertake innovations for periodic revision of curriculum every two to three years and an intensive revision every four to five years depending on the developments in the subject area. Further, the process for revision of curriculum should be reviewed, simplified and made less cumbersome and time consuming. Apex bodies like UGC, AICTE may evolve appropriate mechanisms of overseeing the quality of curricular changes envisaged by the institutions and provide feedback for improvement wherever required. Academic autonomy while ensuring that new frontier areas of knowledge are included in the revised curriculum, it should also ensure that such an exercise does not simultaneously lead to precluding certain other subject areas of vital concern such as environmental education, consumer education, human rights education, education in human values, population education, gender equality, disaster management and other related topics as a part of the undergraduate curriculum. Thus, universities and colleges should focus equally on academic and job-oriented courses while planning for new programmes to make higher education relevant for the world of work. They should also create opportunities for students to pursue utility-oriented certificate and diploma programmes along with their formal degree programmes. Quality of faculty is vital for ensuring the quality of higher education institutions. Therefore, it is imperative that selection of faculty in higher education institutions should be done with utmost care and in an extremely fair, transparent and objective manner without any bias and favour. The Yashpal committee(2009) felt that it was important to understand contemporary realities of the higher education sector in India and also the expectations that people in general have from this system before making any recommendation regarding restructuring of the agencies that monitor and regulate it. The efficacy of any monitoring or regulatory agency would be judged by its ability to respond to these changes and expectations and any measure to restructure the UGC and other regulatory bodies will have to be determined by clarity on the new challenges that have emerged in higher education. Recognizing the need to understand the complex ground reality, the committee travelled across the length and breadth of the country and had direct interactions with a wide range of academia. The committee calls for reforms and renovations in higher education especially with the emergence of new kinds of knowledge areas. Renovation of higher education in India requires a focus on the very epistemology of knowledge, which has, since colonial times, determined the way the universities are designed. Recent reforms in school education must now be reciprocated by significant changes in the university system, especially in curriculum and examination policies and governance systems. Moreover there is an urgent need today to revitalize higher education and free it from an intrusive bureaucracy, mindless regulation and commercial pressures. To keep pace with the changes impacting education, the higher education sector in India would require a radically different and new regulatory organizational architecture replacing the existing ones, including the UGC and other bodies. Thus, the Yashpal Committee proposes an all-encompassing apex body, to be called the Higher Education Commission (HEC), be set up to replace the UGC and other regulatory bodies with a larger mandate of overseeing all areas of post-secondary education. Most importantly, curricular reform would be the topmost priority of the newly created HEC which would create a curricular framework based on the principles of mobility within a full range of curricular areas and integration of skills with academic depth. Undergraduate programmes would also be restructured to enable students to have opportunities to access all curricular areas with fair degree of mobility. The substantial recommendations relating to quality assurance and curriculum development is paced below. Education Policy/ Review Committees Higher Education Commission on University Education (1948) • Higher education policies and programmes should be in line with the social purposes which we pro
fess to serve. • There should be a sufficient unity of purpose in the diversity to produce a community of values and ideas among educated men and women. • Institutional forms may vary as time and circumstances require, but there should be a steadfast loyalty to the abiding elements of respect for human personality, freedom of belief and expression for all citizens, a deep obligation to promote human well-being, faith in reason and humanity. • Mere vocational and technical educations, important though they are, do not necessarily serve the spirit. \ • Values of democracy, justice and liberty, equality and fraternity should be preserved. Universities must stand for these ideals which can never be lost so long as men seek wisdom and follow righteousness; • The Indian Constitution lays down the general purposes of the State. The universities should educate people on the right lines to make the understanding and vision of the framers of the Constitution, the common possession of all the Indian people. National Policy on Education (1986) • In the near future the main emphasis will be on consolidation of and expanding of facilities in the existing institutions. • Urgent steps will be taken to protect the system from degradation. • In view of mixed experiences with the system of affiliation, autonomous colleges will be helped to develop in large numbers until the affiliating system is replaced by a freer and more creative association of universities with colleges. • Creation of autonomous departments within universities on a selective basis will be encouraged. Autonomy and freedom will be accompanied by accountability. • Courses and programmes will be redesigned to meet the demands of specialization better. • State level planning and coordination of higher education will be done through Councils of Higher Education. • Provision will be made for minimum facilities and admission will be regulated according to capacity. • Research in the universities will be provided enhanced support and steps will be taken to ensure its high quality. • Research in Indology, the humanities and social sciences will receive adequate support. • In the interest of greater coordination and consistency in policy, sharing of facilities and developing interdisciplinary research, a national body covering higher education in general, agricultural, medical, technical, legal and other professional fields will be set up. Gnanam Committee (1990) • Central legislation which would require prior approval of UGC before starting a new University. • Universities should be allowed to exercise rigorous control while granting affiliation to new Colleges. • Universities should be gradually divested of the responsibility of regulating courses, conducting examinations and awarding degrees for students in affiliated colleges, and left to concentrate on postgraduate education and research programmes. • The residuary matters and matters of detail such as syllabi and curricular structure, conduct of examinations, classification of results, use of unfair means at examinations, qualifications for appointment to non-teaching posts, composition of minor committees etc. should be covered by ordinances. • All the detailed regulations governing the various working phases of University system should be made by the respective authorities/bodies/committees. • State councils for higher education or the committee of vice-chancellors in the state should give due attention to the students’ welfare and student’s services in the Universities. • Teachers’ participation in decision making and implementation at various stages of University organization need not only be provided for but also fostered by a conducive structure and environment. • First class facility for research should be made available to the staff and students of all other Universities and research institutes in the country. • The UGC/SCHE should have a standing advisory committee for continuous monitoring of the functioning of the autonomous colleges with a view to ensure maintenance of standards. Ramamurthy Committee (National Policy on Education Review Committee, 1990) • Approach of NPE with regard to consolidation of facilities in higher education is passive rather than dynamic and forward looking. • Emphasis should be on formulating innovative programmes for transforming the system into an effective instrument for achieving excellence. • Recommends a complete re-organization of academic life in Universities and Colleges-courses and curriculum, should be re- designed so as to enable students to become instrument of development in their respective region. • Performing of certain extension functions is not enough and that Colleges and Universities should be endowed with the capability to guide planning and insist people’s initiative. • Change in the structure of the University Grants Commission so as to provide for at least 5 full-time Members, apart from the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, with specialization in the specific areas of teaching, research, extension, management and finance. • Opening of Regional Offices of UGC with adequate decentralization of authority and functions. • Review of Scheme of Autonomous Colleges by UGC should be expedited: – Keeping in view the objective of the Scheme which is to bring major structural changes in the higher education system, it should be continued during the 8th Plan period. – An appropriate mechanism should be established at the State level for effective monitoring of the Scheme. – Immediate action should be taken for amendment of the Acts of the Universities and formulation of Statutes to make an enabling provision for conferment of autonomous status on colleges. – The State Governments should not transfer the teachers from Government autonomous colleges and should also sort out the problems of increased work-load of teachers for these colleges, besides fulfilling the system of block grants for maintenance purposes. – The State Governments and universities should hold regular meetings with the Principals of autonomous colleges for coordination and resolving of issues. – The University should accept the decisions of the autonomous colleges regarding new courses and flexibility in course combinations. – The autonomous colleges should prepare perspective plans for development; activate Finance Committees as well as Planning and Evaluation Committees. • Early decision should be taken on the Report of Gnanam Committee on management of Universities. Janardhan Committee (1991) • Re-examination of the feasibility of a national level statutory mechanism for strongly discouraging nonstandard and sub-standard universities and colleges. • Universities should become instruments of development in the respective regions and consistent with this concept, curriculum, course development, etc., should undergo significant changes. • The National Testing Service (NTS) should only be a resource institution; the testing of competencies should be left to the concerned user agencies. • There is no need to set up a Central Council of Rural Institutes; the functions envisaged for the Council can be performed by the UGC and State Councils of Higher Education. • There is no need to set up a National Council of Higher Education; the same objectives can be achieved by a two-tier structure, namely, a Council of Ministers and a Council of Secretaries. • Though there is a need for restructuring the UGC, there is no need for appointment of full- time Members. • Regional offices should be set up at the earliest, with adequate authority and functions. • UGC may consider augmenting research facilities in selected colleges within the available resources. • Curriculum Development Scheme should be continued but the UGC should also consider specific requests from the Universities for curriculum development. CABE Committee (2005) • There is a need to grant autonomy to individual institutions in matters of design
of curriculum. Universities may, however, provide a broad framework within which individual faculty members both within the university and in the colleges should be encouraged to innovate and experiment to transform teaching and learning into a fascinating and rewarding experience for them as well as students. • Though the change in curriculum should be a continuous and an ongoing process, each university should undertake innovations for periodic revision of curriculum every two to three years and an intensive revision every four to five years depending on the developments in the subject area. • The present system of selecting research fellows based on a national level examinations conducted by UGC, CSIR, etc. needs to be reviewed in the interest of promoting research and its quality. • No faculty member should suffer in his / her research endeavors for want of funds. In order to facilitate this, certain funds should be made available to faculty members against duly worked out and approved research proposals. In return, the faculty member should be accountable to maintain progress of research of acceptable standards as should be evidenced by publications in reputed journals. • Institutions of higher education should have the autonomy to adopt continuous and comprehensive system of students’ evaluation with the sole objective of facilitating the acquisition of learning outcomes to the level of mastery, discouraging students getting into selective short cuts and optional readings. • Quality of faculty is vital for ensuring the quality of higher education institutions. It is, therefore, imperative that selection of faculty in higher education institutions should be done with utmost care and in an extremely fair, transparent and objective manner without any bias and favour. • There is a strong need for improving the quality of Orientation Programmes and Refresher Courses so that these result in actual development of expected competence and professionalism of the faculty and not taken as a routine intervention with the mere objective of facilitating promotion and career growth. • With a view to improving the quality of research in the country, use of international bench marks such as citation indices, patents, should be encouraged and a national repository of doctoral theses created. • Academic structures within the university systems should facilitate teaching and research in inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary areas. • All institutions should provide free-ships and scholarships to meritorious and deserving students coming from lower socio-economic strata of the society. Institutions should also encourage and facilitate availability of education loans for higher education. • Higher education institutions need to be given full autonomy to establish linkages for academic and research collaboration with their counterpart academic and research institutions, industry and professional organizations both in India and abroad. Yashpal Committee (2009) • Universities to be self-regulatory bodies to be assisted by hassle-free and transparent regulatory processes; • Universities to be made responsible regarding the academic content of professional courses. Professional bodies like the AICTE, NCTE, MCI, BCI, COA, INC, PCI to be divested of their academic functions, which would be restored to the universities; • Creation of an all-encompassing Commission for Higher Education, a central statutory body to replace the existing regulatory bodies including the UGC, AICTE, NCTE etc. • Curricular reform to be the topmost priority of the newly created HEC which would create a curricular framework based on the principles of mobility within a full range of curricular areas and integration of skills with academic depth. • Undergraduate programmes to be restructured to enable students to have opportunities to access all curricular areas with fair degree of mobility; • All universities to have the full range of knowledge areas. No single discipline or specialized university to be created; • Institutions of excellence like the IITs and IIMs to be converted into full-fledged universities, while keeping intact their unique features, which shall act as pace-setting and model governance systems for all universities; • Universities to establish live relationship with the real world outside and develop capacities to respond to the challenges faced by rural and urban economies and culture; • All levels of teacher education to be brought under the purview of higher education; • New governing structures to be evolved to enable the universities to preserve their autonomy in a transparent and accountable manner; • Practice of according status of deemed university be stopped forthwith. It would be mandatory for all existing deemed universities to submit to the new accreditation norms to be framed on the lines proposed in this report within a period of three years failing which the status of university should be withdrawn. However, unique educational initiatives which have over a period of time enriched higher education by their innovations to be given recognition and supported properly; • Creation of a single accreditation window for all institutes of higher education; • Quantum of Central financial support to State-funded universities be enhanced substantially keeping in view the needs of their growth; and • Expansion of the higher education system to be evaluated and assessed continuously to respond to the needs of different regions in India in order to ensure not only equity and access but also quality and opportunity of growth along the academic vertical. Initiative towards Quality Assurance and Curriculum Development in the Five Year Plans: A review of the past Five Year Plans showed that there have been continuous efforts to strengthen the base by developing infrastructure, improving the quality through several programs and schemes, introducing reforms in content and evaluation and encouraging generation of knowledge through research. While the focus was on infrastructure development till the fifth Five year plan, it shifted to consolidation and quality improvement from the sixth plan onwards. The Seventh Plan also laid emphasis on research and academic developments and in fact it was from this plan onward that the development centers of excellence and area study programs got special attention. From the Eighth Plan onward, the need for differential funding was recognized and it was envisaged that the developing departments would be provided necessary funds to bring up their facilities and activities to an optimum level for their teaching and general research programmes. Further, the Ninth Plan aimed at gearing the system of higher education to meet the challenges arising out of the major social, economic and technological changes. The focus of Tenth Plan was aimed at quality and relevance of higher education, research and development, management in financing and the use of the new information and communication technologies, providing the basis for higher education in the 21st century. Finally, the focus of the Eleventh plan is going to be on revision and modernization of syllabi. Five Year Plans Quality and curriculum in Higher Education. Eleventh • Focus should be on enhancing the quality of educational institutions in general. • Following programs/processes needs to be developed with due emphasis and arrangement for appropriate monitoring: – Development of Multi-skills and Transforming Learning Patterns – Application of ICT in Quality Framework – Improvement of external assessment system. – Development of Internal Systems of Quality Assurance – Performance Based Quality Assessment Approach • Recommended revision and modernization of syllabi, upgradation of infrastructure, filling up of vacant faculty positions, enhancement of competencies of staff and greater use of ICT. • Following interventions were recommended to cater to the emerging needs of the 21st century learner: – Evolution of mechanisms for understanding market
signals – Stepping up of support for vocationalisation of education – Emphasis on the involvement of stakeholders – Synergy/ Partnership with Industry – Development of web- based programmes Tenth • Basic issue of quality improvement would be addressed through the modernization of syllabi, increased research, networking of universities and departments and increased allocation of funds. • Networking through local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET) would also lead to increased academic activities and research. • University system would be expected to utilize the autonomy it enjoys for innovations in teaching and for pursuing high quality research with emphasis on conferring autonomous status on more colleges, provision of the means to interact across geographical boundaries of institutions, improving the infrastructure, more rationalized funding of research, integration of teaching, research and evaluation, and mutual collaboration and cooperation among universities for optimum utilization of available resources. • Decentralization of the university system, greater powers to faculty/ departments and nomination of students to university bodies on the basis of merit/excellence are issues which would receive attention. • Accreditation process should be made more transparent, time-bound and be progressively freed of Government regulations and control leading to a situation when the whole procedure would be based on a system of public appraisal/acceptance. • Fee structure in the universities is abysmally low and has remained static for more than three decades, therefore efforts should be made to rationalize the fees and attempt greater generation of internal resource. Ninth • Career development by encouraging the relevant courses with professional focus; • Modification in traditional courses to make them application oriented; • Encouragement to universities to develop basic theoretical understanding of discipline to ensure that the theory and practice are blended and integrated; • Focus on hands on experience; and • Addressing the public concerns about downslide in the quality of education by focusing on the quality of education rather than on quantitative expansion. Eighth • Strengthening of existing postgraduate departments in terms of laboratories, workshops and library services; • Opening of new specialized courses and departments, In case of developed , with an inter-disciplinary approach provided they could be sustained by existing facilities; • In case of developing universities, new departments and courses only if the need is justified; • Viability of courses, departments etc. so that those courses that have lost their relevance or are outdated could be dispensed with and teachers in such subjects could be retrained. Seventh • Creation of research and other centralized facilities at selected centers for the benefit of a group of institutions in the region/country, • encouragement of academic mobility and cross-fertilization of ideas with a view to inculcating the feeling of national integration by providing special assistance for faculty housing/complex and hostels, • restructuring courses at first degree level so that they become relevant to the local needs and environment and increase the area of employability of graduates; • Prioritization of programs intended to achieve the national objectives; • Development of Centers of Excellence; • Optimization of use of the existing facilities in the universities/colleges specially physical facilities. Sixth • Improvement of standards; • regulation of admission; • restructuring of courses for practical orientation and greater relevance; • centralization of instrumentation and repair facilities; • make extension as an integral part of education; (low priority was given to expansion of educational facilities by way of new universities, centers for postgraduate studies, new department and to construction/extension of buildings involving brick and mortar.) Fifth • Construction of academic buildings, library, staff quarters, teachers’ hostel, students’ hostel, study homes, non-resident students’ center; • purchase of books, journals, equipment; • appointment of additional teaching staff, technical supporting staff etc; Fourth • Emphasis will be on consolidation and improvement of higher education through the strengthening of staff and library and laboratory facilities. • Assistance for fuller development will be given to a few colleges selected on the basis of their achievements, existing facilities and potentialities. • Facilities for post-graduate education and research will be increased and their quality improved. • Provision for hostels, student study homes and other facilities. • Programmes for improving the quality of teaching personnel includes- provision of summer schools, seminars, and staff quarters. Third • Three-year degree course also includes other reforms such as improvement in the teacher-pupil ratio, introduction of tutorial system, general education, improvement of libraries, laboratories and instructional buildings. • Periodical conferences, seminars, summer schools and refresher courses will continue to be organized as in the Second Plan for teachers in different subjects. • Teachers will also obtain special grants for visiting centres of research for short periods. • Additional amenities for students: provision of hostels, hobby workshops, non-resident students' centres, health centres, counseling and student aid funds. Second • Institution of three-year degree courses. • Organisation of tutorials and seminars. • Improvement of buildings, laboratories and libraries. • Provision of hostel facilities. • Stipends for meritorious students. • Scholarships for research. • Increase in salaries of university teachers. First • A University Grants Commission after the pattern suggested by the University Education Commission should be set up which would monitor the tendency to open new universities, without adequate finances. Universities should not recognize new colleges until they are sure of their financial stability. • Economies should be effected and more satisfactory results obtained by the co-ordination of post-graduate work in the various universities, thereby preventing unnecessary duplication, which should also be the responsibility of the University Grants Commission when it is set up. • There is some room for economy in the running of universities, as revealed by the Report of the Reviewing Committee, appointed by the Government of India to examine the problems and difficulties facing the three Central universities and the ways and means by which Government can help them. The recommendations of the Committee should receive the careful consideration of all universities. • Residential life in hostels should be based on the maximum of self-help and the ideals of utmost simplicity should be inculcated among university students. In the context of curriculum development the eleventh plan emphasized the need for starting of interdisciplinary and integrated courses at under graduate and post- graduate levels with flexibility in choice of courses and a system of credits that enable horizontal and vertical mobility/transfers for teachers. These courses need to be started in both science and social science streams and must be offered by the Departments of the Central Universities. For this purpose, colleges should also be involved in curriculum development and the curricula should be revamped to reflect the need for national development with international benchmark. Moreover creativity of teachers, research fellows, students and external experts should be harnessed in order to develop multimedia teaching material. Reflecting on the quality improvement and curriculum reform in higher education, eleventh five year plan (2007-12) has noted that quality improvement in higher
education will be brought about through restructuring academic programmes to ensure their relevance to modern market demands; domestic and global linkages with employers and the curriculum will be in tune with job market dynamics and advancement in research. It further recommended the syllabi in higher education system will be revised at least once in every three years. Impact of Globalization: Directions of Curriculum Development and Change in India The globalization of the world market and erasing of socio-cultural barriers, the world is becoming a global village. Moreover, the neo policies of liberalization and privatization of Government of India have given birth to diversified sectors of economy. The infrastructure, manufacturing, communication, service and other fast growing sectors are changing the country to knowledge economy leading to demands for efficient, vibrant, dynamic and qualified knowledge workers. This has shifted the focus of education from pure to applied sciences and sciences to engineering and technology. Today’s Indian youth is more focused, target oriented and well versed with upcoming needs and accordingly opts for the type of education which is demand driven, job-oriented and unbiased for gender. Viewing the importance of this changing education trend, various non-conventional, technical and non-technical courses are being introduced in general educational institutions, polytechnics and engineering colleges in India. The curricula of these courses are being designed keeping in view the demands of world of work. Two paradigm shifts have been observed. The reform leading to expansion of disciplinary knowledge domains during the last few years are found in favour of those courses of study that have high market demands and high economic payoff. The participation of private sector in higher education, to a greater extend, are introducing new courses on above mentioned premises. Secondly restructuring the curriculum of exiting the courses in the context of globalization, internationalization and localization has remained a challenge for many universities. Further market force driven by the threat of competitions or the lure of profit have led to the emergence of higher education as business. In the world of higher education market and globalization are beginning to influence universitiesand shape education ,not only in terms of what is taught but also of what is researched .It is also inducing universities to introduce new courses for which there is a demand in the market ,because these translate into lucrative fees as a major source of income. There is a premium on applied research and a discount on theoretical research.It is clear that dangers and opportunities are closely interwined in this process of change. In this process many traditional courses are not attracting quality students nor are they reviving their content. In considering what the spread of globalization into higher education, the developing countries are increasingly adopting curricula which are of international standards. Internationalization of higher education refers to institutional arrangements set up by the governments, universities and education agents that include the delivery of higher education services in two or more countries. Accompanying the increased mobility of students and academic personnel, Universities have taken up steps in recent decades to enhance the international content of their programs and course offerings. Contrary to the overwhelming commercial motivation of the globalization process, internationalization is related effective diffusion of basic attributes of a domain (for example, higher education) such as structure, organization, governance, content, quality, standards, approaches and practices among the countries and their institutions. Nations, which are capable of making intelligent choices out of the promising globalization opportunities or from the inevitable situation of pressures, should try and incorporate the concepts of internationalization as its priority strategy. The preponderant emphasis on market needs tends to deprive the higher educational institutions of their fundamental character. The globalization processes are, in part, driven by science and technology — particularly, new information and communication technologies. These processes in turn have strongly influenced the ways in which scientific knowledge and new technologies are produced and disseminated. While new opportunities are available to promote social and economic development for the benefit of all, knowledge is becoming an ever-more important strategic advantage for a seemingly decreasing number of countries. The tools of information and communication technologies for on line education and knowledge exchange are becoming prolific, innovative and user friendly. The new technologies have increased the global reach of higher education. However there are many imponderables such as the necessary band width availability; technological sophistication of the recipient country and its institutions; the suitability of the courses and their contents to the aspirants for knowledge, skills and qualifications; affordability and – most important of all – the reputation of the institutions offering on line education. In many of the developing countries there has been a high degree of privatization of the higher education system. In fact in India the response to rapidly growing demand for higher education including professional education is to liberally allow the private sector investment in higher education. The globalization of higher education is now seen as a logical extension of this phenomenon. While there are sufficient legal provisions to ensure the quality standards of the education of the approved private national institutions in India, there is hardly any authority to regulate the standards of the programmes offered by foreign institutions on their own or in collaboration with Indian institutions. Therefore in evolving the higher education programmes and their structure and contents it is necessary to recognize the distinction between the processes of globalization and internationalization. Priority should be assigned to the internationalization aspects rather than globalization. Countries like India may see commercial opportunities in the globalization process and hence show an ambivalent attitude towards foreign education providers in India. However there is no clarity, as yet, about the benefits and costs of international education programmes offered in India. In addition, Market forces and globalization processes should not be allowed to shape the higher education system. Instead, the agenda for higher education should be so evolved as to capture the world wide opportunities, and avoid the dangers unleashed by markets and globalization. Based on the deliberations in various national and international forums, the issues and options for policy orientation to take advantage of the positive aspects of globalization of higher education system should be considered to protect the national interest from spurious programmes. Initiatives towards Curriculum Reforms and Academic programme in Practice:Move towards interdisciplinary perspectives Renewing and updating of the Curriculum is the essential ingredient of any vibrant university academic system. There ought to be a dynamic Curriculum with necessary additions and changes introduced in it from time to time by the respective university with a prime objective to maintain updated Curriculum and also providing therein inputs to take care of fast paced development in the knowledge of the subject concerned. Revising the Curriculum should be a continuous process to provide an updated education to the students at large. Leaving a few, there have been many universities where this exercise has not been done for years together and it is not uncommon to find universities maintaining, practicing and teaching still on the Curriculum as old as few years or even more than a decade. Not going through the reasons for this inertia, the University Grants Commission, realizing the need in this contex
t and in relevance to its mandate of coordinating and maintaining standard of higher education, decided to adopt a pro-active role to facilitate this change and to ensure that the university Curriculum are soon updated to provide a standard education all over the country. Curriculum Development Committee for each subject was constituted with the respective Convener as its nodal person. The Committee besides having five subject experts drawn from the university system was given a wider representation of various sub subject experts attending meetings of the Committee as the esteemed co-opted members which kept on changing from time to time as the need arose. The UGC model Curriculum has been produced to take care of the lacuna, defects/shortcomings in the existing Curricula in certain universities, to develop a new model Curriculum aiming to produce the one which is compatible in tune with recent development in the subject, to introduce innovative concepts, to provide a multi disciplinary profile and to allow a flexible cafeteria like approach including initiating new papers to cater for frontier development in the concerned subject. The course revision in higher education is not and administrative feat and should be undertaken as a time-bound exercise, in which hundreds of college teachers have to be consulted before it is given a shape. Moreover, since the process is decentralized at the department level, it is the expert committee which takes the deadline into account. Meanwhile, course revision for a number of syllabi such as BA (hons) economics, BA (hons) history, B Com (hons), bachelor of business economics, Master of commerce, masters in international business, and masters in human resources and organizational development is already underway with the approval of the academic council. Others such as B Com (pass) remain unrevised for 22 years. The UGC sends model curriculum of 32 subjects to universities as reference points and the university is free to adapt a modified version or adopt the curriculum completely. In addition, Universities can also create independent new curriculums after communicating their decision to the commission. The number of teachers playing an active role in designing the curriculum is obviously very small, even though they are the ones implementing the curriculum. Teacher involvement in curriculum development is desirable particularly because it can be a motivating factor for teachers in their profession; give them a sense of ownership of the curriculum they have to transact. As such teachers should be an integral part of curriculum. The curriculum and syllabus designed by the teachers should develop the skills such as creative thinking, communication, self awareness, coping with stress, decision thinking, interpersonal relationships and empathy. It should also emphasize on value-based education so as to help the nation fight against all kinds of fanaticism, ill will, violence, fatalism, dishonesty, avarice, corruption, exploitation and drug abuse. Curriculum should be developed in such a way as to make education a forceful tool for the cultivation of essential values, good qualities, self-confidence, skill development and intelligence. It should focus on the following: Skill development and employment orientation; Inter-departmental linkage; Inter-disciplinary approach; Internal and continuous assessment; Remedy the existing deficiency in the curriculum; Keep pace with global standards; Value education; Knowledge based education; Include fieldwork, problem solving, case-studies, projects etc; Assignments and group discussion. Curriculum Development in different Universities:(Few Examples) Curriculum change is a lengthy and convoluted process in practically all Universities, especially at the bachelor’s level. This process has to be considered at a number of levels initiating with the departmental committee of the Department/Institution, wishing to introduce the change. After which it has to be reviewed by the Board of Studies in the subject, the concerned faculty and the academic council before getting the formal sanction of the Executive council/ Board of Management. However with teachers from different affiliated colleges constituting these bodies, and each member having the interest of his institution in mind, consensus is never easy. In addition, the need for putting in special efforts to internalize curricula varies with disciplines, with subjects like mathematics, physics and chemistry having curricula that are practically the same all over the world. While others like Geology even though it may lay stress on the national settings, it has papers like world ‘stratigraphy’ and ‘global tectonics’ that look at the world scenario. Moreover, science, engineering and technology, and medicine are already, in a sense, internationalised. As such the need to internalize curricula is probably restricted to the humanities, social sciences and business management. The extent of internationalization even in disciplines where it is considered necessary will vary from country to country and from institution to institution. Van Der Wende (1996) also found the extent of internationalization may vary from a situation where the curriculum has some international content, through curricula that address cross cultural skills to curricula whose contents are internationally recognized at the professional level. Internationalization of curricula has been relatively easy in the United States because the Universities teachers have a great deal of autonomy over the curriculum they themselves teach, and also academic freedom as regards what and how they teach (Schukoske, 2001). In the case of India, internationalization of curricula will probably have to be on a restricted scale, which could begin with introduction of an international dimension in the undergraduate curricula in the form of information that compares the Indian situation with that which exist abroad and also relevant studies that deal with international situations. Higher education in India needs a reality-check, as also indicated by the result of a recent McKinsey report – a mere 15% of our finance graduates and 25% of our engineering graduates are employable. In fact, around 83% of our graduates do not have industry skills. Accordingly, education should essentially be application-oriented so that it encourages students to branch out and not remain restricted within the limitations of a specific discipline. Over the years various committees have established the need for timely curriculum review and upgradation. Besides, the exam-oriented system needs to be substituted by a system of continuous assessment through which individual progress can be monitored. Some other areas of concern include shortage of skilled faculty, teacher recruitment and training. In addition, the current lack of research environment is also an area of concern. Thus there is a need for a more competitive funding to boost research initiatives as well as a collaborative industry-academia framework, in order to make research more relevant. DU was designed to be a federal University and till 1962 attempt was being made to get all the colleges on the campus. However the pressure of increased enrolments due to the post independence increase in the school output and the lack of resources have transformed the university de-facto into an affiliating one. The demand of a knowledge-based economy also requires a major flexibility in the courses that are offered with a major emphasis on the core competences. Thus group-work, projects and teamwork the corner stone working in the industry must be emphasized and evaluation criteria and methods developed to that effect. During the last few years empowered committees have been constituted to restructure the curriculum at the undergraduate stage at the University of Delhi.The aim for restructuring the curriculum in the DU includes: student depending on his performance should be able to reach any course at the end of a three-year. She/he should have the implicit chance to shift his/her college both at the end of first year and second
year and if necessary at the end of the III half year; student should get involved in research appropriate to his level of understanding and competence right from the first year. These studies should be performed in groups of 4-5 students, and these groups should team up with other groups studying similar problems across the University electronically; a system should be developed to interlink all such studies in nearly real time so that socially negotiated standards of assessment could be developed suited for of such a distributed work. This could then allow for a real internal assessment process to be initiated, giving the teachers real control over what is taught and how it is to be examined; and the University should ensure that, the large number of teachers with Ph.D. and research experience or experience in some other creative field, can add courses which could be available to the entire community of eligible students across the university. The Variable Module suggested in the CSEC proposal has the germ of that possibility. The same structure can be used both for the courses generated by the teachers within our system and knowledge practitioners outside the university system. Electronic networking should ensure membership of all teachers to all the relevant committees so that they can contribute their considered thought, and make contributions to a rapid and continuous change in the curriculum followed at the University. This could enable the university to respond rapidly to the change it is effecting and also eliminating errors quickly. At present, the major thrust of the initiative for restructuring of the curriculum in the University of Delhi is: to build flexibility into the curriculum without a proliferation of programmes; to integrate the use of information technology into the curriculum so as to make every student IT-aware; to provide a flavour of the workplace to every student, according to her/his aptitude; to promote co-operative endeavour by getting students to work in groups; and to help students develop their skills of communication. In fact, the most important aspect of this restructuring envisions a student body broad-based in its foundation, open in its interaction and variable in its skill profile. Thus, what is needed is a radical overhaul of the course structure, teaching methodology and examination system. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU): The University endeavors to promote the principles for which Jawaharlal Nehru worked during his life-time, national integration, social justice, secularism, democratic way of life, international understanding and scientific approach to the problems of society. Towards this end, the University shall: foster the composite culture of India and establish such departments or institutions as may be required for the study and development of the languages, arts and culture of India; take special measures to facilitate students and teachers from all over India to join the University and participate in its academic programmes; promote in the students and teachers an awareness and understanding of the social needs of the country and prepare them for fulfilling such needs; make special provision for integrated courses in humanities, science and technology in the educational programmes of the University; take appropriate measures for promoting inter-disciplinary studies in the University; establish such departments or institutions as may be necessary for the study of languages, literature and life of foreign countries with a view to inculcating in the students a world perspective and international understanding; provide facilities for students and teachers from other countries to participate in the academic programmes and life of the University. JNU is mainly involved in research oriented postgraduate programmes. It has established academic collaboration with more than eighty institutions of repute in twenty nine countries across the world. JNU facilitates research activities in Indian and Western traditions of thought in linguistics, literary and cultural theory, philosophy including philosophy of language, metrics and prosody, sociological thought, polity, gender, and ethnic studies and culture evolved teaching and research programmes at MA and MPhil / PhD levels. Besides the regular courses, the University has set up a Centre for Sanskrit Studies to facilitate the preservation of heritage texts and manuscripts primary intellectual texts of the Sanskrit tradition. Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Study (JNIAS) has been created to promote research and interaction with front ranking scholars from outside India in some key areas of life sciences and social / scientific implications. JNU is innovative with regard to its academic structure, and the revision of curricula is a continuous and ongoing process. The revision is initiated by individual faculty member(s) depending on requirements with a view to keeping pace with the changing needs. Keeping the spirit of the interdisciplinary character of the University, the courses are structured in such a way that in addition to the prescribed compulsory courses in the discipline concerned, the students are encouraged to opt for optional courses from other Centres/Schools to benefit from the faculty of other Centres/Schools. Unless a student obtains prescribed grades and credits in optional courses, he/she will not be qualified for award of degree. The University follows semester system. Each course is for the duration of one semester and it is assigned a specific number of credits. The numbers of credits to be assigned to a course are determined by Board of School on the recommendation of the Centre concerned. Evaluation is done by the concerned course teacher with the exception of M. Phil dissertation and Ph. D. thesis. University follows a continuous with prescribed contact hours. A majority of study evaluation system. Each course has a number of credits centres in JNU are autonomous in terms of preparation of syllabus as such it is relatively easy to introduce a new course or make changes to an existing course at JNU than in other universities. To introduce a new course, the concerned faculty puts the research forward to the centre which puts it before the board of studies of the school and if the board approves the proposal, then the new course is introduced. Unlike DU, there is no central syllabus review committee at JNU. Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD): The Bharat Ratna Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, Delhi (AUD), was established through an Act of the Delhi Legislature in 2007 and was notified in July 2008. AUD is mandated to focus on teaching and research in the social sciences and humanities and is guided by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s vision of promoting equality and social justice as well as quality and excellence. It would be India's first university dedicated exclusively to social sciences and humanities. The university has already started operations by offering a PG Diploma in development studies and would launch three PG programs this year: MA in Development Studies, Psychology, and Environment & Development followed by law program in 2010. Further, by 2013, the university plans to have 15 interdisciplinary schools and centers, a community of 4000 students, of which 1200 will have hostel accommodation. About 1000 students will pursue post graduation and research. In addition to that there will be a core faculty of 200 teachers and 50 professional staff. Each course will be for duration of 16 weeks and will be of either 2 or 4 credits. The students will be initiated into the topics by the teachers. Depending on the specific characteristics of the course, students will be required to make presentations and attend workshops. Students will be evaluated on the basis of attendance, participation and presentation in the class, short analytical written tests and term papers. One of the unique strength of the MA programme is its well developed inter disciplinary courses. Unlike most programmes in other Universities, the taught courses are interdisciplinary in their orientation as they draw heavily from other related disciplines. T
hus it helps develop a dual ambition. The curriculum combines innovative classroom learning with seminars, group work, projects and a compulsory internship leading to a dissertation. More than thirty percent of the learning is structured outside the learning process. It is expected that graduates from this programme will be equipped to work in development organizations, government agencies, corporations, non-governmental organizations, consultancy firms, civil society initiatives, media as well as the academia. AUD proposes to set up centres for research, documentation and training-which will function in a project mode and will work in areas of contemporary importance and will be linked to the University’s academic and research programmes. A plan has already been worked out for developing the following centres: Centre for Leadership and change; Centre for Equality and Social justice; Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education; Centre for Engaged Spiritualities and Peace Building; and Centre for Social Application of Mathematics. Leadership and Change Choice-based credit system (CBCS) has several unique features: Enhanced learning opportunities, ability to match students’ scholastic needs and aspirations, inter-institution transferability of students (following the completion of a semester), part-completion of an academic programme in the institution of enrolment and part-completion in a specialized (and recognized) institution, improvement in educational quality and excellence, flexibility for working students to complete the programme over an extended period of time, standardisation and comparability of educational programmes across the country, etc. The CBCS imminently fits into the emerging socioeconomic milieu, and could effectively respond to the educational and occupational aspirations of the upcoming generations. In view of this, institutions of higher education in India would do well to invest thought and resources into introducing CBCS. Aided by modern communication and information technology, CBCS has a high probability to be operationalised efficiently and effectively — elevating students, institutions and higher education system in the country to newer heights. It might be added that a large number of universities and institutions in the country are already having their undergraduate and postgraduate ‘papers’ subdivided into units and sub-units. Central, state and deemed universities have been directed by the UGC to adopt the recommendations of the A Gnanam committee on academic and administrative reforms, which includes introducing the semester system, examination reforms and inter-institution credit and transfer of students. More importantly, UGC has linked implementation of these measures with grants. The committee has also said all academic programmes like certificate, diploma, undergraduate, postgraduate, M.Phil and Ph.D should be subject to upgradation or revision to a limited extent every academic year and substantially every three years. UGC has also the varsities to introduce the Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS) which will facilitate inter-institution transfer of students after completion of a semester. CBCS will facilitate part-completion of an academic programme in the institution of enrolment and part-completion in a specialized institution. But to implement CBCS, the committee said, institutions of higher education need to review curricular contents, term papers and assignments of various programmes. There will be provisions for core-credits and elective or optional credits for different levels of academic programmes. Core-credits would be unique to the programme, and earning them would be essential for the completion of the programme. Elective-credits are likely to overlap with other programmes or disciplines of study. Students enrolled for a particular programme or course would be free to opt and earn elective-credits prescribed under the programme or under other programmes within the department, faculty, university or even a different institution of higher education. As for the examination system, the committee said the traditional format has several limitations. On the other hand, the semester system encourages and supports faster learning opportunities. Further, it has the ability to accommodate diverse choices that students may like to have. Curricular revision should be an ongoing academic activity involving all the faculty members. All academic programmes should be updated or revised to a limited extent every academic year and substantially every three years for all the courses. Upgradation and revision of the curricula is to be carried out in terms of current knowledge, national and international developments, and relevance of new ideas, concepts and knowledge to the concerned discipline. As a part of academic reform, institutions of higher education need to pay serious attention to the procedures for merit-based admission. The candidates' answer-sheets need to be assigned confidential codes before being sent for evaluation. Following admission, varsity and college authorities would initiate measures, depending upon the need-pattern of newly admitted SC, ST, OBC, and minority students, to organize remedial or bridge-courses in language, communication and subject-competency. The assessment of student performance should be carried out through a combination of internal and external evaluation. Where do we stand: The Critique? It is common knowledge that over the years quantitatively higher education has expanded. However, the scenario reflects very serious weaknesses. The paper presents in brief the critical observation of Yash Pal Report on Curriculum Development and Syllabi making “Curriculum issues and syllabus-making There is a need to ask as to what is the purpose of a university, especially at the undergraduate level, and then use the answers to develop a curriculum. At present, the design of curriculum and syllabi is reflective of the entrenched examination system under which the student is asked to face a question paper at the end of the year, or in some universities, at the end of the semester. This archaic examination system, ostensibly used as a means of certifying the ability of students, unfortunately does not really test the kind of skills they require to be successful in either the pursuit of pure theoretical knowledge or in practical real world situations. The mode of transmission is also generally quite poor in terms of its pedagogic quality. The methods of teaching and evaluation used are not conducive to improving the ability of students for abstract thinking.” At present, much of our higher education is uni-disciplinary or within a narrow spread. Specialization in a given discipline is only valuable in so far as it allows the learner to link that discipline with the real world and contextualize his/her own conceptions of life and its various phenomena. The proliferation of universities and colleges has been rather unplanned. Infrastructure facilities are seriously inadequate. There is marked mismatch between education and employment. Wastage in the system in terms of failures and order of low pass percentages is very high. Examination reforms have been slow. There are serious complaints at all levels about the, lack of responsiveness in 'the system. Academic activities are at low ebb and the academic calendar itself gets seriously disrupted almost every year. The system of higher education continues to encourage memorization of facts and regurgitation rather than creativity. While the results in higher education are clearly determined by the, foundation laid in school education, we cannot wait for the ills of school education to be remedied before bringing in meaningful improvements in higher education. For the redesigning of courses the UGC has set up twenty seven Curriculum Development Centres in different disciplines. The emphasis is on modernizing and restructuring courses in modular form. Reportedly, twenty two Curriculum Development Centres have given the reports and they have been circulated to universities and college
s for consideration and implementation. One important question that arises for consideration, in this context, is whether this centralized arrangement does not militate against the autonomy of the universities and colleges on which much emphasis has been laid under NPE, 1986. One view that has been expressed is that these courses are only recommended to universities and colleges which are free to adapt themselves with such modification as they deem fit. The National Knowledge Commission presents a wide-ranging set of prescriptions on the issues relating to the current state of higher education system in the Report to the Nation 2006.The report contains a compendium of curricular concerns relating to the quality of higher education. This includes such aspects as a rigid and compartmental curricular structure, outdated teaching, learning and evaluation practices; obsolete course contents; lack of mobility within and outside the institutions; and so on. Despite widespread realisation of such maladies for decades, no significant improvement has taken place. This is the time to look at the impediments behind the laxity and ways to overcome them. Our premier institutions for half a century have effectively practiced the credit system and yet only a very small number of institutions follow the system. This situation is mainly due to the absence of determined policy to transform the evaluation practices. What is necessary is the national capacity for defining, organising and improving quality-related functions for assessment and accreditation. The report erroneously assumes that there is only one accrediting agency, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and that it has a “monopoly over accreditation”.The accreditation systems by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) and many others have been ignored. In any case, the origin of formal accreditation processes such as NAAC and NBA is merely 10 years old. Comparing their accomplishment with other countries that have accreditation suggestions for over eight decades is not fair. The accreditation system is an evolving process everywhere in the world. Even the most reputed accrediting agencies in the US are constantly improving their parameters and problems. The suggestion in the report to have central and state boards of undergraduate education ostensibly to separate the academic and administrative functions of colleges and provide quality benchmarks would unfortunately result in opposite effects such as regimentation of curriculum, rote learning for examinations, rigidity in the course and credit systems and massive increase in tutorial colleges. On the other hand, the Knowledge Commission can help persuade the policymakers to establish a national curricular framework for higher education dealing with the key curricular concerns enforceablewith a time-bound implementation strategy. Such a framework will enhance the scope for “pluralism and diversity” rightly emphasised in the report. The universities and colleges should have the functional autonomy within the framework to innovate curriculum, forge links with other institutions and deal with the sponsoring and funding agencies. Challenges in Curriculum Development and Implementation in Higher Education: Higher education, as both a “place” and a “paradigm”, has throughout its history confronted challenges in the internal and external environments of its functioning (Brennan et al., 1999; Hirsch & Weber, 1999). In the twenty-first century, the nature of these challenges has necessitated that both the organizational character and curriculum offerings of higher education institutions be adaptive and responsive to changes occurring in the external environment. Thus the higher education curriculum has been a fiercely contested epistemological terrain, with its concern that it services the interests of industry and commerce for the detriment of society, on one hand and its view as reproducing elitist values, on the other side. The problem then, is located in the realm of the curriculum’s capacity to respond to the contradictory nature of the multiple stakeholder interests. Some of the important challenges in the way of curriculum development and implementation in higher education are as follows:  The need to support teacher’s ability to develop a pedagogical approach based on uncertainty and problem orientation.  The need for employers to recognize and facilitate employees’ application of more holistic forms of knowledge and practice, and thereby granting grater legitimacy to this form of learning.  The need for schools at lower levels of the education system to prepare students for interdisciplinary forms of learning and study, in order to enable them to make a successful transition to Higher Education.  The need for policy makers and funders of Higher Education to recognize the value of studies that emphasize sustainability as a vital complement of studies seen as contributing to economic growth.  The need for reform within Higher Education Institutions, not only to appreciate the importance of sustainable development but also to allocate needed resources and provides an enabling environment for innovation and change in sustainability practice.  The need for Higher Education Institutions to engage in closely in wider societal debates on the major global challenges of our times such as: climate change, environmental degradation, poverty and human rights; even if this requires moving beyond their current, recognized areas of ‘expertise’.  The difficulty of integrating new areas of knowledge and practice within existing curricula that enable students to act as global citizens, to recognize their rights of others, and to work towards improved conditions for others in their local contexts as well as at the national, regional and global levels.  Slow progress towards the recognition of academic outputs that take into account and place value on contributions on human and social developments, in addition to the traditional metrics of peer reviewed publications and successful bids for research funding, which often govern promotion and career prospects in Higher Education Institutions.  The need to encourage teaching and learning based engagement between Higher Education Institutions, students, teachers and wider society in a range of pressing real world issues, following approaches that are democratic and participatory and that affirm the rights of all.  Private sector involvement is vital for the growth of higher education in India. However, private management and funding of education is fraught with inconsistencies and contradictions in its policy and practices.  Emphasis has to be laid on curriculum change; interdisciplinary courses gradually replacing discipline oriented learning, especially at the master’s degree level; greater emphasis on field based learning experiences for students both in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes; more career oriented courses and response to local needs for human resource in specific work-related opportunities.  Make curriculum flexible and create a thinking curriculum. Give more emphasis on simulation, modeling and advance computations in order to bridge the gap between a Graduate and a Professional.  Seminars, group discussions and presentations must be given regular slots. Utilize more Case studies, more opportunities for exposure through minor projects and relevant value oriented major projects. Develop course on professional values and ethics. There are several other challenges that we face in higher education in India today. We need a balance between populism and over-regulation; between unbridled marketisation and excessive bureaucratization. We need an educational system that is modern, liberal and can adapt to the changing needs of a changing society, a changing economy and a changing world. The thrust of public policy for higher education in India has to be to address these challenges. Road map for Future Directions: India has come a long way from the days when h
igher education modeled after the British system, commonly called the London Model, which was an exclusive prerogative of the Government. The creation of private universities is, in more than one way, proof enough of the transformation that this sector has undergone in India. Changes in the curriculum content, student access, diversity among types of institutions, and emphasis on cutting-edge practice-driven research are only some examples of the transformations that are evident in the last decade or so. Fortunately, at long last, administrators and policy-makers are looking at the sweeping changes brought about by globalization more positively, with an intention to play an active role in the changed scenario, rather than just being passive onlookers. As in other sectors of the economy, ‘capitalism with conscience’ is the hallmark of development in higher education, too. However the weakest link in the Indian higher education is related to the quality of education and relevance, rigor, delivery effectiveness, student satisfaction, teacher retention, etc. are some of the manifestations of this most important aspect of higher education. quantity in Moreover, though there are more than 400 universities, and a few thousand colleges in India, it is common knowledge that terms of number of institutions of higher learning has not necessarily improved the overall quality of learning. Like many parts of the world that were late entrants in the global world, higher education in India is at the crossroads in more ways than one. It is slowly being drawn into the world of the market characterized by commoditization of education, among other notable trends. The traditional view of higher education as a public good is surely though slowly fading away and a new perspective is emerging that views higher education as a non-merit good. The objective of higher education is not only to promote equality and social justice, but also to provide the right kind of work ethos, professional expertise and leadership in all walks of life. Perhaps, it is because of this dual purpose of education that policy-makers and academic administrators have been very cautious in opening the market for higher education in most parts of the world. A major task will be to change the contents of higher education. Appropriate courses have to be designed so as to achieve a proper blending of wide general knowledge and such specialization, which would have in-built facilities to renew relevant knowledge and skills at increasingly shorter intervals and even on a continuous basis. Increasing freedom of choice in selecting subjects of studies has to be ensured, and interdisciplinary studies will have to be so devised that they will foster understanding and appreciation of national history in the context of the goal of multicultural under-standing. India with all its potential could not remain a bystander for long and have already started debates and discussions on the modalities of our approach to globalization of higher education, the options available to Indian higher education sector, and the strategy that we should adopt not only to gain a strong foothold in this ‘megatrend’, but also emerge as a significant global player in higher education in the world. Thus, with the ubiquitous optimism seen all around, it is quite possible to set a benchmark, if not globally, at least in Asia, in the field of higher education. With India poised to become a knowledge economy, the focus is on building a strong educational system that helps the country win a global edge. Higher education in India needs a reality-check. Education should essentially be application-oriented. That will encourage students to branch out and not remain restricted within the limitations of a specific discipline. While an out-of-the-box approach is commendable, a structured but contemporary curriculum is important. Besides, an exam-oriented system needed to be substituted by a system of continuous assessment through which individual progress can be monitored. Rise of the information society and the knowledge economy at a global level has reinforced education as a key economic and business driver. The demographic differentials reveal that in the next 20 to 30 years, India would have a youth-centric population profile. In such a situation, new opportunities are likely to be optimized. As far as the future is concerned, while greater coordination between regulatory bodies and policy-making agencies is required as such universities should adopt a student-centric approach and stress on practical innovations. To sum up, what has evolved from an appraisal of curriculums in different Universities over the years is that India needs to promote an education system that stresses on innovation, incorporates a digital environment and devises university-level education in such a manner that it can contribute to the economy. Academic freedom is central to the future of India’s higher education system in its efforts to develop a knowledge economy based on the need for promoting intellectual capital and to develop institutions of excellence comparable to the best anywhere in the world. A number of regulatory measures have been taken to bring about structural reforms and ensure quality in higher education. A scheme of autonomous colleges has been launched under which teachers in the colleges themselves prescribe the curriculum and conduct the evaluation of their students through a system of continuous evaluation. References: Aggarwal, P. (2006). 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India’s skilled labor supply: myth or reality? Watson Wyatt Worldwide, London, UK. National Policy on Education (1986), Government of India, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Education, New Delhi. Oliver & Boyd. (1977). The Curriculum: Context, Design & Development. Milton Keynes: The Open University of U.K. Planning Commission (2009). Report on Working Group on Higher Education – 11TH Five Year Plan. Planning Commission, New Delhi. Programme of Action (1992), Government of India, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Education, New Delhi. Report of the Acharya Ramamurthy Committee (1990), on review of National Policy on Education, 1986. Report of the CABE Committee on Gnanam Committee Report, 1992. Report of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) Committee on Autonomy of Higher Education Institutions (2005). Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi. Report of the Committee to Advice on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education in India (2009). Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi. Schukoske, J. (2001). Academic exchange, ‘Global Literacy’ and U.S. Higher Education, in K. B. Powar (Ed.), Internationalisation of Indian Higher Education, pp. 20-31, AIU, New Delhi. Tilak, J. B. G. (2004). Absence of Policy and perspective in higher education, Economic and Political Weekly May 22, p2159-2164. UGC. (2008). Annual Report 2007/08. University Grants Commission, New Delhi. UNESCO (2009). India Country Report on Facing Global and Local Challenges- The New Dyna
mics for Higher education. Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi. Van Der Wende, M.C. (1996). Internationalising the curricula in Dutch Higher Education: An international comparative perspective. NUFFIC, Den Haag.

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