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To Begin With, the UGC Needs To Get the Credits Right

Context

Having course credits proportional to teaching hours, as spelt out in its draft NHEQF, will likely impact faculty productivity.

Relevance

GS-III: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Dimensions of the Article

  • Higher Education in India
  • Implications for Teaching
  • International Practices
  • In India
  • Way Forward

Higher Education in India

  • The Choice Based Credit System (CBCS), the Learning Outcomes-Based Curriculum Framework (LOCF), and the University Grant Commission (UGC)’s latest draft National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF) document marks a new era in higher education in India.
  • Many undergraduate courses in India like the B.A and the B.Com. are rigid and terribly outdated.
  • Most Indian Universities would be happy to see the choice, flexibility, and liberal ethos envisioned.
  • Students are now poised to receive an actual education instead of just degrees.

Implications for Teaching

  • Credit System as currently envisaged in these documents vis-à-vis the teaching quality and research productivity of faculty espoused by the NEP.
  • The NHEQF attempts to provide much-needed clarity on a variety of issues, from the types of courses in initial and later years of a four-year degree.
  • However, it continues to equate one credit to one teaching hour.
  • If the CBCS or LOCF credit structure of core courses of six credits and electives of four credits each is to be followed, then it has serious implications for the teaching workload.
  • At six credits for a core course, with an emphasis on tutorials in sections of not more than 20 students, a faculty member would end up teaching about eight hours per week per course. If as outlined by the NEP, a faculty is responsible for course content, assessments, and grading, it would require at least double the hours of preparation.
  • UGC’s description of faculty workload, many institutions inadvertently might end up burdening a faculty member with two such courses mechanically, adding the hours to 16 per week.

International Practices

  • United Kingdom or under the Bologna Process, a core undergraduate course might be listed as six to seven credits, indicating the total expected engagement from the student including the time spent in lectures and tutorials.
  • The implications for the faculty teaching load are very different from students. A seven-credit course might mean approximately two hours of teaching per week, with the remaining hours credited for preparation and assessment.
  • The standard workload for a faculty is typically decided via negotiations between faculty unions and the university administration, making it difficult to get the information officially.
  • In most U.S. universities, a typical undergraduate course is three credits and, therefore, about three hours of total classroom teaching for a faculty per course.
  • Faculty workload could vary between two courses per year in a research-intensive university to four or five courses per semester in a community college.

In India

  • Faculty teaching hours per course are much lower in United States and the U.K than what is currently practiced in Indian universities and outlined in several UGC documents.
  • If the higher education regulatory bodies in India are serious about boosting research productivity of faculty while staying true to the liberal ethos of NEP, then we cannot have course credits directly proportional to the teaching hours.
  • Faculty must have enough time to create quality teaching content and engage in research.
  • Students need creative solutions such as technology-aided larger classrooms for introductory courses in universities with the help of graduate students as teaching assistants can be implemented to economize on faculty time and effort to take more responsibility for their learning.
  • We must acknowledge the resources and the time that go into the production of research and teaching.
  • We are practically reverse engineering a successful model of higher education in India which would need immense clarity and focus on resources.

Way Forward

To carry out productive research which contributes to the society, the faculty at higher educational institutions must be granted time and resources in ample. India can’t have an outdated education system and aim to produce and leverage the best minds.

Source – The Hindu

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October 2022
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