The J&K government has conceived a slew of steps for smooth implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP)-2020 and also to bring reforms in the education sector.
The Higher Education and School Education departments are on toes to finalize the policies for implementation of the NEP-2020 from the current academic session for which the J&K government has already decided to shift the academic session to July month from the current academic session for Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs).
Notably, a meeting was convened by the J&K Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta with the Vice Chancellors (VCs) of the J&K Universities to discuss the action taken and progress achieved under New Education Policy (NEP-2020) and implementation of its key initiatives during the current academic session.
The meeting was attended by VCs of all J&K universities, while some members from Central University Jammu and Kashmir attended the meeting as well.
All the VCs shared their suggestions on various activities and programmes for successful implementation of NEP-2020. During the meeting, the J&K Chief Secretary issued several directions to the VCs for implementation of NEP-2020 following which slew of steps have been taken for implementation of the new policy in the education sector.
Notably, the committee was constituted to formulate a uniform academic calendar for all the J&K universities which will be in sync with the National Academic Calendar.
The committee has already started its work on it. Some recommendations have been already put forward by the concerned dean academic affairs of the Universities in Kashmir division to the director colleges.
The recommendations will be incorporated with the inputs given by the VCs and the Deans of the Universities in Jammu division.
The government is also mulling to come up with a Uniform Public and Private Universities Act (BILL) for which the Higher Education Department has been tasked to prepare a draft Public Universities Act and Private Universities Act.
For this a sub-committee of Vice Chancellors of Universities is to be constituted who will formulate the Act and later will be introduced by the J&K government. This will be for the first time that all J&K Universities will have a common University Act.
The Uniform Act for all J&K universities will bring all the universities on a common platform. All the administrative and academic decisions will be in sync with each other.
Besides other reforms, the Common University Act will also empower the Cluster University Jammu and Cluster University Srinagar. Till now the Cluster University has been only enjoying the autonomy on holding examination of the University and its constituent colleges which has created impediments in the growth of the cluster universities.
Once the common University Act will be in place, all the constituent colleges of the both the Cluster Universities will be fully transferred to the concerned University. Till now, both the Cluster Universities are under the administrative control of the Higher Education Department (HED) but the introduction of common University Act will empower the Cluster Universities and take them at par with other J&K universities. The Cluster Universities will be empowered with the administrative and financial autonomy besides will be empowered to make all the recruitments as well. The government has already decided to introduce the Four Year Under-Graduate Programme (FYUGP) in higher educational institutions as per UGC-Curricular Framework and Credit System from the academic session 2022-23.
The government has drafted an action plan in this regard and the course will be introduced in the colleges from the current academic session. Also, the government has entrusted the higher educational institutions to have e-content available for the students to deliver online courses. This will also cater to shortage of staff.
Notably, the degree colleges across J&K are hit with dearth of staff for the last many years. Also, the J&K government is also mulling to hold admission through Common University Entrance Test (CUET) from the next academic session (2023-2024).
The Universities have been asked to make a road map for the new initiative which will be in place from the next academic session. In this regard the J&K Higher Education Department will constitute committee of Vice Chancellors to formulate mechanism for the same. As of now, all the Universities in J&K used to hold separate admission process for students aspiring to pursue different Post Graduate, diploma and other courses from the concerned university.
But from the next academic session, the students will appear in a common university entrance to pursue higher studies.
With the implementation of NEP-2020, the J&K government has also shifted focus on accreditation, autonomy and ranking of the colleges.
The government has directed the HED to frame a time-line for achieving autonomy to all GDCs in a phased manner. Notably, a three-member team from the University Grants Commission (UGC) which was tasked with recommending autonomous status for Government Degree College (GDC) Boys Baramulla recently held its two-day visit of the college. The team has already shared its findings with director Colleges J&K. Also, most of the colleges are yet to get NAAC accreditation.
The NAAC ranking is given on the basis of the achievements in the academics as well as in infrastructural standards. Besides, research work and exchange programmes are counted while evaluating the College for NAAC ranking.
A college being accredited signifies that it has met certain standards of excellence across its operations. Apart from making an educational institution eligible for grants from the union government there are major benefits for students if a college has a NAAC accreditation.
The Higher Education Department will also go for rationalization of the existing faculty among all the GDCs in order to maintain student teacher ratio and availability of teachers in all GDCs, subject wise courses.
As part of the FYUGP, the department will also go for sharing of existing resources in GDCs within the Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) on Meta or Cluster Model for proper utilization of resources. This will help the government to implement FYUGP in all college which are otherwise offering admission in selected courses.
The government is also mulling for establishment of Research and Innovation centres in Hub and spoke model in HEIs of J&K and will also introduce robust and transparent feedback mechanism in all the Universities and HEIs in order to enhance the quality of education and scope of improvement in academic system.
The government will also adopt active bio-metric entry mechanism where in only bona-fide persons to be allowed entry in the institutions. This will curb the alleged anti social activities in HEIs.
All the stakeholders need to put their heads together to realise the objectives of the NEP-2020 and facilitate implementation of the flagship programme as early as possible.
Students cannot be made to suffer for any kind of delay in implementing the policy as it will have adverse impact on their academic prospects.
The government must finalise all academic arrangements to be put in place for NEP-2020 urgently so that the admissions take place in time and the crucial time of students is not wasted.