CANDI 09 AUGUST 2021
How NEP can transform higher education in India?
GS 2 – Governance
What in News?
On July 29 last year, the Government of India (GoI) announced the National
Education Policy (NEP) 2020 as a pathbreaking initiative to reimagine the future of
• NEP is expected to transform the landscape of higher education in India by
making Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) work on “solutions to the
problems” rather than “solutions looking for a problem” in the following
• India today has over 1,000 Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs), including
over 150 of national importance.
• India currently ranks third globally in terms of the total research
output, accounting for 5.31% of the total of research publications.
Challenges facing Indian HEIs
• Lacking innovation: Of three aspects — education, knowledge generation
(research and development) and innovation — Indian HEIs have performed
very well, in relative terms, in the first two aspects, but lack on the innovation
front.Indian academia has traditionally been focused on R&D without much
emphasis on relevance and delivery.
• Indian HEIs lack international diversity and remain predominantly
local.The lack of international faculty and students in Indian elite
institutions is one reason for the poor rankings of Indian institutions.
• Fall in professional education pursuance: According to All India Survey on
Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19, since the academic year 2015-16, the
number of students pursuing professional courses at the undergraduate
level has decreased by 7,21,506 (roughly 9%).
• Fall in Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER): According to the All-India Survey on
Higher Education (AISHE) report 2019-20, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER)
| CANDI [Aug 2021 Week 1] | © Absolute IAS Academy Page | 3
in Higher education in India is only 27.1%, which is quite low as compared
to the developed as well as, other developing countries..
o GER is a statistical measure for determining the number of students
enrolled in UG, PG and research-level studies within the country and
expressed as a percentage of the population in the 18-23 years age
• Teacher vacancies: According to UGC, out of the total sanctioned teaching
posts, 5,925 (35%) professor posts, 2,183 (46%) associate professor posts
and 2,459 (26%) assistant professor posts are vacant. This could be due to
o Young students don’t find the teaching profession attractive; or
o The recruitment process is long and involves too many procedural
• Accountability and performance of teachers: At present, there is no
mechanism for ensuring the accountability and performance of professors in
universities and colleges. This is unlike foreign universities where the
performance of college faculty is evaluated by their peers and students.
• Lack of employable skills: Lack of employable skills in students of
technical education has been observed.
• Accreditation of institutions: The National Board of Accreditation should
act as a catalyst towards quality enhancement and quality assurance of
higher technical education.
• Nonperformance of UGC: UGC is overregulated in areas where it needed to
back off such as admissions and funding but was under regulating where its
interventions were most needed such as ensuring if the quality standards
were being met.
o The Draft Higher Education Commission of India comes with its
own set of challenges but it certainly disrupts the existing status quo
which was most needed.
Recommendations for HEIs under NEP 2020
• Under NEP 2020, Indian HEIs will focus on 3Is – interdisciplinary
research, industry connect and internationalisation, the three pillars needed
to elevate our institutions to global standards.
| CANDI [Aug 2021 Week 1] | © Absolute IAS Academy Page | 4
o NEP has enabled mechanisms for Indian HEIs, such as IITs, to venture
out and open international campuses across the world. This will not
only increase their international footprint but also improve their
• The goal of increasing the gross enrollment ratio (GER) from the current
26% to 50% by 2035, India needs to not only open new HEIs and
universities but also scale-up existing HEIs.
o NEP speaks of achieving graded autonomy for HEIs. Over time,
independent boards will manage the HEIs with active participation
from alumni and experts from academia, research and industry.
• Funding: For higher education, for the first time, government promises a
budget allocation for education as a fixed percentage of Gross Domestic
Product at 6%.
• The establishment of the National Research Foundation (NRF) is expected
to connect our academia with ministries and industry and fund research that
is relevant to local needs.
o Under the framework of NRF, each government ministry, be it central
or state, is expected to allocate separate funds for research.
• Multi-disciplinary institutes: In order to unleash the technology
development potential of HEIs, our institutions need to not only become
multi-disciplinary in their scope and offerings, but also collaborate among
o Bringing “unlike” minds together in terms of disciplines (multidisciplinary schools and centres), cultures (international programmes)
and attitudes (academia-industry collaborations) is the need of the
o Multi-disciplinary universities, as envisaged in NEP, rightly
emphasises on this aspect.
Challenges for NEP-2020
• Public policies do not settle in equilibria and are hard to predict: The
history of evolution of failed public policies is filled with predictions that went
| CANDI [Aug 2021 Week 1] | © Absolute IAS Academy Page | 5
• Public policies evolve and coevolve: The evolutionary nature of public
policy needs to be recognised and accepted while attempts are being made to
• Public policies are subject to cognitive biases: It is time that we recognise
that there are pre-existing biases, prejudices and opinions — all of which
may influence people’s behaviour.
• Public policies are subject to reactivity and the Lucas critique: The
reaction to policy and how it impacts the implementation of public policy is
always an empirical question. But at the same time, it suffers from policyaltering behaviour, which was not taken into account while implementing
o It is named after Robert Lucas’s work on macroeconomic policymaking
which argues about the limitations of predicting the effects of change
in economic policy through historical data.
Way forward: It is important that we address the above challenges for
implementing the NEP.
• There is an urgent need to establish a new organisational structure,
the National Education Policy Commission, whose sole mandate is to work
towards implementing the NEP.
• Institutional checks and balances: Establishing institutional mechanisms
and empowered steering committees, within the existing mandate of the
Ministry of Education, the UGC and other such state and central level
regulatory bodies, to continuously monitor the implementation.
• Providing the financial resources that are necessary for implementing
the NEP: A special purpose vehicle (SPV) needs to be created to ensure that
the funds for NEP are available and that the implementation process is not
o We also need to promote private philanthropy for funding both
public and private higher education institutions and new and
additional forms of tax incentives and other forms of incentives need
to be evolved.
• Empowering institutions of eminence and other institutions who have
been granted greater autonomy to function independently.
| CANDI [Aug 2021 Week 1] | © Absolute IAS Academy Page | 6
• Following international best practices: The watershed moment for US
universities was the introduction of the Morrill Act in 1862 when land-grant
universities were allowed to be set up that focused on local requirements.
Posterity will celebrate this time in India’s history as far as educational
transformation is concerned, if we are able to make efforts to implement the
National Education Policy 2020. Indian academia welcomed NEP and embraced it
with enthusiasm when it was launched. Indian higher educational institutions
should take concrete steps for the implementation of NEP.
Sources: INDIAN EXPRESS, HINDUSTAN TIMES