Academic Bank of Credits

 

Context:

 
  • The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has recommended a revamp of the higher education scene in India to make education more student-centric and multi-disciplinary.
  • A new initiative stemming from this desire is an ‘Academic Bank of Credits’ (ABC) in higher education idea, which was notified recently by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for implementation.
  • Theoretically, this idea can usher in positive disruption in the jaded higher education sector in the country. But, in reality, this disruption is more likely to usher in chaos.
 

Background:

 
  • The idea is very simple and appealing. Any undergraduate or postgraduate student can create an account in the ABC portal and store information of his/her completed courses (i.e., subjects/papers in old terminology) and grades obtained.
  • These grades are stored for a period of five years.
  • Thus, for example, if any student needs to get back to education after a break or has to relocate to another city, they can easily ‘carry’ forward their completed credits.
  • But that is not all. As multiple institutes are connected to the ABC portal, one can be formally enrolled in university ‘A’ but can choose to do some courses from university ‘B’, some more from university ‘C’ and so on and all of these would count towards the student’s degree.
  • In principle, I may be enrolled in a B.Sc. Physics course in a college in Mumbai but find that my college does not offer an elective course in nuclear physics. This is no problem at all.
  • Thus, education will truly become flexible and interdisciplinary, without forcing any single institute to float an unmanageable number of courses.
  • Even if the student does not care about interdisciplinary electives, this flexibility will offer them a chance to enrol in a course and learn from teachers from some of the best institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) or the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research.
 
 

Issues:

  • However, there are a number of practical hurdles which could make this scheme unworkable.
  • First, let us assume that an IIT offers an elective course which is going to be taught by a fabulous teacher.
  • ABC regulations say that the institute should allow up to 20% supernumerary seats for students enrolling through the ABC scheme.
 
Other initiatives:
  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) platforms such as SWAYAM and NPTEL are ‘supposedly designed’ for large enrolments.
  • So, let us assume that we work out some mechanism to direct all the overflow of requests at the individual institute level to these MOOC platforms. So far we have not found any evidence in the public domain that these MOOC platforms can provide a reliable assessment of learning achievement if there is massive enrolment for a course.
  • There would be some kind of assessment through Multiple Choice Question (MCQ)-based tests alright.
  • But we should remember that one of the metrics for success of these courses is student performance in the final assessment.
  • Thus, it would be in the interest of course coordinators to award scores liberally and paint a rosy picture.
  • This is not a hypothetical fear. Some reputed institutes have already put in place guidelines to ‘adjust’ the score obtained by the students in MOOCs before it is accepted in the institute’s records.

Source: THE HINDU.

 

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