NEP & Higher Studies: Curriculum, Entry & Exit Options and NAC Bank

Last Updated on August 2, 2020 by

National Education Policy 2020 is all set to reform the Indian education system. In this post, we will have an in-depth analysis of the reforms in Bachelor’s Degree and Higher education.

NEP & Higher Studies

Here, readers will find the following details – basic details about the NEP, in-depth analysis of the policy, salient features, key changes, subjects, curriculum, exit options etc. In short, parents and students will find all the important details that they need to know about NEP in this post.


NEP has been crafted keeping the needs of dynamic India in mind. The new policy is set to influence different areas of Indian education system. For examle – it is set to transform pre-schooling phase. It will change the curriculum structure of formal schooling system. I’ve already crafted a detailed post on this topic – new 5+3+3+4 system of schooling.


Similarly, NEP will also have an impact on Bachelor’s Degree education, Master’s Degree education and PhD education. All these impacts, reforms, facts and figures have been discussed in detail here.


The story so far

Let us talk about Bachelor’s and Higher education system in India. After completing 12th class, Indian students have access to different types of Bachelor’s Degree programs. So far, these programs have not been multidisciplinary in nature. For example – after completing 12th Science, an engineering aspirant would apply for B.Tech. admission. Now the B.Tech. program would deal with engineering subjects only. The curriculum won’t cover subjects belonging to other disciplines (for example – arts, economics or statistics).


In other words, our present Bachelor’s Degree education system is quite rigid, stream-specific and not multidisciplinary in nature! It means that an engineering aspirant will be limited to a specific set of domain-specific subjects only.


NEP is here to change this situation! NEP aims at making higher education multidisciplinary learning process. In other words, the curriculum will be flexible, it will allow students to take up creative subject-combinations.


Apart from that, new reforms also include points such as – multiple exit options, inclusion of vocational training, multiple entry points, academic bank of credit, multidisciplinary institutes etc. All these points have been discussed in detail ahead.


Come, let us take a close look at the key differences between the new higher education system and the old one. Here it is –


NEP higher education system VS the old system

NEP higher education Old system
Multiple entry options Limited entry options
Multiple exit options Fixed exit options
Academic bank of credit No credit system
Multidisciplinary approach Rigid stream-specific approach
Flexible curriculum Curriculum is rigid
Allows creative subject combinations Rigid subject combinations
M.Phil. program will be discontinued M.Phil. plays an important role in higher education


Come, let us take a close look at the set of reforms now. In the next section, we will have an in-depth analysis of major NEP-related reforms in Bachelor’s Degree and Higher education system. Let us begin –


NEP Reforms: Bachelor’s & Higher Education

Come, let us check out reforms in areas such as – curriculum, academic structure, entry and exit options, subjects, streams etc. Let us start –


Course duration

Under the new system, course duration of undergraduate programs will be 3 to 4 years. It means that after completing 12th grade, eligible candidates may apply for Bachelor’s Degree programs, which last for a period of 3 to 4 years. These UG programs will have multiple entry and exit options (discussed in detail ahead).


Let us talk about PG education now. Master’s and PG Diploma programs will be 1-2 years long. Candidates may apply for PG admission after completing relevant Bachelor’s Degree course. After completing Master’s Degree program, candidates may pursue relevant PhD program. Under the NEP, M.Phil. programs will be discontinued.


Bachelor’s Degree programs

At present, Bachelor’s Degree programs in India last for a period of three to four years. As per the NEP, course duration will remain the same (more or less). But aspects such as – subject selection, curriculum, exit options and academic bank credit are major reforms in Bachelor’s Degree education system. We will take a close look at each one of these reforms ahead.


Multidisciplinary approach

NEP’s multidisciplinary approach towards Bachelor’s Degree education is an exciting prospect! So far, Bachelor’s education system in India has been quite rigid. Let me explain it to you by giving an example.


Let us consider engineering education. B.E. and B.Tech. are notable UG level engineering programs. The current engineering education curriculum deals with domain-specific subjects only. The curriculum covers few non-engineering subjects (for example – management).


In other words, selecting and pursuing non-engineering subjects like arts, economics, politics or history is not possible for an engineering student. But multidisciplinary approach is set to change this trend!


NEP aims at making the curriculum more flexible, multidisciplinary and student-friendly. Once the new policy is implemented fully, UG students will be able to choose creative combinations of subjects. For example – an engineering graduate may even pursue politics subject. Similarly, a student may pursue Physics as his/her major and arts as minor subject! This makes UG education fun for students! Flexible curriculum, creative subject combinations – these are highlights of the multidisciplinary approach.


Flexible curriculum

What is flexible curriculum all about, some of you may ask. In order to understand this term, we must take a close look at the present UG education system. The present system is quite rigid. Candidates pursuing UG education have almost no subject combinations to choose from. They usually study the fixed set of domain-specific subjects. Yes, they do have a handful of elective subjects to choose from. But that doesn’t make the curriculum flexible!


The new policy will allow students to take up creative subject combinations. It will also allow them to major in a specific subject and choose a secondary subject to study along the major subject. And these subjects need not be related to each other. For example, you may pursue Physics and political science at the same time! This is what flexible curriculum stands for.


Entry and exit options

Imagine that you are pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree course. The total duration of the course is three years. You decide to dropout after completing 2 years. What kind of certification or qualification will you obtain after dropping out? Under the present system, you won’t obtain any qualification or certification for completing 2 years! But NEP aims to change this with smart exit options.


An exit option will allow a candidate to leave the UG program in between and walk away with a relevant qualification or certification. It will help him/her gain deserving qualification for the time he/she devoted towards the program.


For example, if you choose to quit a 3-4 years long Bachelor’s Degree course after completing 1 year, you will get a certificate. If you choose to quit or leave the program after 2 years, you will get an Advanced Diploma. After completing 3 years, you will get Bachelor’s Degree. On completing 4 years, you will get Bachelor’s Degree with Research. This is how exit options work.


Existence of exit options means multiple entry options should also exit. For example, a candidate holding relevant certificate must be allowed to continue (from 2nd year onward) his/her Bachelor’s education instead of starting all over again! Similarly, someone holding Advanced Diploma must be allowed to continue from 3rd year onwards (and not from the beginning).


Academic bank of credit (NAC Bank)

The National Academic Credit Bank (NAC Bank) will be a boon for many students. The Academic Credit Bank is aimed at storing academic credits earned from different Higher Education Institutes.


Concepts such as – multidisciplinary approach, multiple entry options and multiple exit options will work like a charm with the assistance of NAC Bank. Degree earned by a candidate will be based on the credit earned by him/her. In short, the Academic credit system will revolutionize the Indian UG education system.


PG Education

When it comes to PG education, the highlight is that M.Phil. programs will be discontinued. After completing Bachelor’s Degree education, candidates may apply for relevant PG programs such as – Master’s Degree or PG Diploma programs. After completing Master’s Degree course, they may even apply for relevant PhD program.


Multidisciplinary Universities

The Government will setup world-class MERUs (Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities) across India. These Universities will provide multidisciplinary education to students across India.


Through NEP, the Government wants to transform institutes of higher education into multidisciplinary institutes. Based on the purpose of these institutes, they will be classified as – Autonomous Degree granting colleges, Research intensive universities and teaching intensive universities.


Colleges will be given graded autonomy. Affiliation status of colleges will be phased out in 15 years. In other words, colleges or institutes of higher education will be slowly transformed into autonomous degree granting colleges or constituent college of a university.

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