The University Grants Commission’s move to establish an Academic Bank of Credits (ABC) and permit multiple entry and exit in academic programmes in higher education has evoked a mixed response among academics in Kerala.
Many have flagged the rigidity in the existing system that required fundamental changes prior to the introduction of such ambitious reforms.
The creation of a centralised ABC platform and the provision to exit at various stages of an academic programme and re-enter through multiple admission paths were both key proposals of the National Education Policy (NEP) – 2020 that aimed at student mobility and credit accumulation, transfer and redemption.
Noted educationist R.V.G. Menon, who welcomed the move, pointed out such practices were in vogue in reputed universities abroad. He, however, expressed reservations over its feasibility in the State where flexibility has only been namesake.
“Our universities claim to have implemented the choice-based credit and semester system (CBCSS), but denied choice in the actual sense. Students were made to choose from a predetermined set of course combinations that confined their academic freedom. Ushering in new-age reforms without addressing such barriers might not yield the desired results,” he said.
Pointing out that the State Universities have had a full-fledged credit system in place since 2008, Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) member secretary Rajan Varughese said the extent of flexibility under the CBCSS hinged on various factors including the array of courses offered by colleges and the number of departments. As such, those who study in large colleges would receive more number of choices than the others.
The lack of academic mobility that enables students to pursue subjects provided by other colleges has denied large sections such degree of freedom while opting for open courses.
Dr. Varughese added that various limitations related to faculty strength and post creation also restricted the scope of providing multidisciplinary courses in colleges as envisaged in the NEP. “Under the existing circumstances, a fall in the intake for a particular programme could render many teachers unemployed. Such factors prompt institutions to restrict the choice of courses on offer,” he said.
A KSHEC-constituted expert committee led by Prabhat Patnaik had cautioned that providing multiple points of entry and exit could legitimise dropouts in the country’s higher education scenario.