NEP 2020 inter alia focuses on research, innovation/collaboration and extension activities. The objective primarily is to think out of box to resolve the particular problems faced by society through creative research. This implies that the researchers have to apply their energies to find answers to a series of questions that arise during the process of resolving the problem they are working upon. The policy has far-reaching implications as it emphasises multidisciplinary approach to be adopted to overcome the impediments created by compartmentalization of knowledge. This is an innovative approach envisaged in the policy.
An institution of higher learning is required to be productively engaged in research activities. It can be both qualitative (inductive) and quantitative (deductive) research. Generally, it is seen that whatever research activities are carried out in HEIs mostly relate to verification of concepts/models developed by the West to examine their applicability in our environment. During the course of research proper code of ethics is to be observed. Our research activities focus on subjective studies at the cost of empirical methodology. Owing to certain structural limitationsour research output ismostly weak and sans addition to existing funds of knowledge. It is because of this fact that our research output is not generally acknowledged in the advanced world. However, it is in place to mention that research papers published by Professor (Dr) Mohammad Sultan Khuroo and the likes of him have been acknowledged and appreciated worldwide.The NEP 2020 emphasises inductive/fundamental research.
Each institution should have a structured mechanism for creation, promotion and dissemination of knowledge. For this purpose they should provide a proper platform to the creative members of the faculty and the budding inquisitive scholars among the students. To realise the objective the institutions should have debating and literary societies. It should be ensured that these committees meet at regular intervals. The presentations made and debated in these meetings may later be published as occasional papers. This process will not only ignite the appetite for research and creation of knowledge among budding scholars, but will also help in dissemination of fresh ideas that may inspire the students and scholars at large.
A teacher is supposed to be creative and innovative. S/he is expected to be knowledgeable about the frontiers of knowledge in his/her particular domain. They learn, unlearn and relearn in order to add value to the process. Innovation may imply doing something new or to present some existing phenomena in a new and creative fashion. Innovative ideas may be big or small. A breakthrough creates something new or changes an existing one. If one is not innovative one is obsolete. Relying on received ideas and tradition will lead to mediocrity. We need to maintain a balance between innovative creative ideas and the fund of inherited knowledge.Introduction of new courses of study, course combinations, creative and critical pedagogy, learning objectives/outcomes, etc. adds value to an academic process.
For an innovative academic programme strategy is important. A conducive ambience and culture is to be developed for generation and nurture of new ideas in the institutions. It is pertinent to mention here that innovation culture is a driving force to create differentiation for an academic organisation. IQAC/DICA should promote the culture of creative and innovative ideas. Often there is an experienced faculty in an institution to navigate these debates and discussions. Innovative ideas ultimately result in an enhanced productivity in research and academic processes.
Institutions should discourage the status quo enabling a way for paradigm shift. Innovation should reflect inspiration, creation, sustenance, reinforcement, perpetual improvement, outcome, and structured process. Finally an HEI has either to perform/innovate or perish. George Bernard Shaw says, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself”. There should be inter institution collaboration among the HEIs and interface between academy and industry. This will help to learn from each other to add value to the processes.
Institutions should create innovation clubs/incubation centres under the supervision of some exceptionally bright and innovative faculty and these centres should organise innovation competitions among the sister institutions at regular intervals. In these competitions local innovators who might not be the students of any institution should also be accommodated and encouraged.
One of the most important activities undertaken by HEIs is extension/outreach activity. It offers a good connection between campus and community as well as lab and land. The purpose is to identify and fulfil extension needs of a village /place adopted. This helps in undertaking extension activities which are needed for sensitisation, gender participation, hygiene, sanitation, literacy drive, child care, community empowerment, financial help, optimal use of utilities, cleanliness of water bodies and so on. Accordingly camps are organised in rural areas to perform aforementioned activities. The local inhabitants are invited to participate. Now there can be an interaction between HEIs and Panchayats as regards the outreach programmes organised by the institutions. Surveys may also be conducted on different parameters and submitted to the concerned government departments for plan formulation and implementation. The NSS units have been pro active to reach unaccessable habitations to mitigate the sufferings of these people to some extent. The students engaged in outreach activities also get a feel of life in the countryside. This helps to work for adult education/ school dropouts by adopting select areas under each one to teach one programme. This approach ensures community driven activities.
Each institution in collaboration with the district administration, municipal corporation/town area committee and the concerned NGOS may patronise at least one game. As a part of a long term plan the institution should develop the infrastructure for the game not only at the campus but also in and around the town. As a short term plan the existing infrastructure should be utilised optimally, by holding tournaments of the game, involving not only the sister educational institutions but also the local teams of the area.
A set of sample audit observations/questions related to present criterion detailed here may be a part of Academic Audit Manual:
1. Why promotion of research/facilities and consultancy shall not be revisited and considered for inclusion at college level in view of NEP 2020.
2. Why has the UGC stopped giving incentives to faculty in the shape of PTAC as was envisaged under the twelfth plan period (2012-17)?
3. What measures institution has taken to work for collaborative research?Steps initiated by an institution to improve upon standards of research paper publication preferably in UGC CARE list or as notified by UGC from time to time.
4. Has the institution been able to create an impact factor in the society through outreach/outside the campus activities?
5. Has the institution executed MOUs’ in letter and spirit as entered into with industry or other institutions?
6. Does the institution has its research code of ethics and is it being strictly observed by the faculty?
7. To what extent the institution is innovative so far as different aspects of extension activities are concerned?
8. Does a college prepare/publish an annual report regularly giving a detailed account of all activities including research, innovations/collaborations, extension/outreach and allied activities? The annual report is a document which has added significance replacing newsletter publication started with the introduction of the accreditation process from 2004 in J&K.
9. What contributing factors besides criterion wise performance add value to the institutional scorecard?
10. Why Government College Baramulla after obtaining A grade (3.09 score) under new scheme of accreditation shall not be a benchmark for other lead colleges in J&K to improve upon from superior to superb performance/grade.
To conclude, the accreditation process being the 4th vertical under NEP 2020 has gained added significance. The improvement of grades is the outcome of synergy and smart performance besides criterion wise achievements. Every institution shall establish the practice of comprehensive academic audit and the outline discussed for academic audit manual in a series of write-ups attempted by us may help them in this regard.In short, the craft of SSR writing with due support of evidence is the key and crux.