Universities in Kerala will offer four-year undergraduate (UG) programmes next year onwards and gradually phase out the existing three-year courses.
The proposed higher education curriculum framework, which will ring in such reforms, will also have reduced focus on language subjects and added relevance for academic credits, internships, electives and foundation courses in degree programmes.
Higher Education Minister R. Bindu, while addressing a press conference here on Monday, said students will be provided an exit option following the third year of their course. The final year will likely involve project-mode and research-oriented activities that provide students crucial exposure in their areas of specialisation. Graduates of the four-year programme will also be able to apply for lateral entry to the second year of postgraduate programmes, she said.
Four-year undergraduate degrees with multiple entry and exit options had been first recommended in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
The Minister said a curriculum monitoring committee headed by former executive vice president of the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) Suresh Das will coordinate the efforts to evolve the framework. Focus groups that are focussed on specific topics will function under the committee.
Dr. Bindu will inaugurate a two-day workshop on the Kerala Higher Education Curriculum Framework in the capital on Tuesday. Kerala State Higher Education Council vice chairman Rajan Gurukkal will preside over the inaugural session.
Foundation courses will be introduced for each discipline under the new curriculum framework. While all students will have to undergo mandatory foundation courses, students of Science, Social Sciences, Humanities and Commerce programmes will need to clear discipline-based mandatory foundation courses. Optional foundation courses will also be offered by universities.
The new curriculum will bring changes to the existing pattern of language studies in degree programmes. The existing system of having multiple language papers in various semesters will be discontinued. While the mandatory and the discipline-based foundation courses will include limited portions of language studies, students who wish to delve deeper into the area of study will be able to opt for minor, optional or elective courses.
Core subjects in each programme will be considered major specialisations to provide in-depth knowledge in the respective study area. The system of awarding academic credits, as recommended by the University Grants Commission (UGC), will also be introduced. One credit will be awarded for every 15 lecture or tutorial hours attended during a semester. Students will also receive a credit for attending two hours of practical, laboratory or field work in a week.
Dr. Bindu said the proposal of launching an Academic Bank of Credits, another recommendation of both the UGC and the NEP 2020, is also being considered.