[Editorial Analysis] Structural reforms for NEP 2020

Mains Paper 2: National
Prelims level: National Education Policy 2020
Mains level: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


• The COVID-19 pandemic and also easing and normal academic activity being gradually resumed, the Central government’s New Education Policy (NEP) is back in focus.

• While the policy covers a wide range of issues, which include reforms in school and higher education, the emphasis should also be on the need to restructure the governing bodies for universities and autonomous colleges.

The Appointments and Management structure:

• The system of appointments of vice-chancellors and syndicates, or governing councils, the key authorities for any university, needs to be revised.

• The appointments are often mired in controversies, with frequent reports in the past of aspirants for the post of vice-chancellors and membership of syndicates indulging in unethical practices to gain favour.

• The NEP talks of creating new structures, such as a Board of Management, to replace the syndicate system. To implement this recommendation, State governments must bring in a slew of bold reforms, some of which are outlined below.

The system of syndicates:

• The existing system of syndicates, consisting of government nominees and those nominated by Governors or chancellors, should be dispensed with.

• Often, people lacking merit but with an eye on memberships of affiliation, building, and purchase committees, among others, get nominated to these bodies.

The Board of Management structure:

• The system as vice-chancellor as chairman, the Board should consist of former vice-chancellors drawn from other universities, members drawn from industry, the alumni, eminent public intellectuals, principals of affiliated colleges on rotation and members representing the non-teaching staff.

• The Board’s decisions should be taken by consensus or by a majority of the members present. Proceedings should be conducted in virtual mode and made available for stakeholders’ viewership.

The appointment of vice-chancellors:

• For the appointment of vice-chancellors of universities, search committees constituted for such purposes must be thoroughly restructured.
• The government’s and chancellors’ role in such committees must be done away with.

• The practice of having government nominees, chancellor’s nominees and university nominees should be stopped.

• It should be replaced by drawing an eminent former vice-chancellor or academician of proven integrity and administrative capability for the post of chairman.

Regulation for Higher Education:

• Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education.

• HECI to have four independent verticals – National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation, General Education Council (GEC ) for standard setting, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding, and National Accreditation Council( NAC) for accreditation.

• HECI will function through faceless intervention through technology, & will have powers to penalise HEIs not conforming to norms and standards.

• The Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.

The Transparent procedures:

• Applications for the post of vice-chancellors can be invited through advertisements on the university website and through newspapers.

• The Biodata and profile of candidates must also be published on the websites. The committee may then allot marks to candidates’ scholarship in terms of teaching and research, administrative capabilities, and capacity for fundraising.

• The scores obtained by candidates should be consolidated and the names of shortlisted candidates then submitted in the order of merit to chancellors for deciding on formal appointments.

The Issue of accountability:

• The Faculty members must mandatorily upload on university websites their annual plans for research and innovative modes of teaching.

• Their annual self-appraisal reports can be evaluated by external peers and their recommendations should be strictly implemented.

• There is an urgent need to overcome faculty shortage by recruiting teachers in order to overcome the existing trend of higher educational institutions relying on guest faculty.

Improve the higher education ecosystem:

• In order to improve the higher education ecosystem, excellence in teaching, research, innovation, entrepreneurship and social contribution must be encouraged.

• The NEP’s recommendations, like the introduction of four-year courses that have the option of re-entry and exit, one- or two-year postgraduate courses, and setting up of an Academic Bank of Credit for credit transfers, may be helpful.

Way forward:

• NEP 2020 aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035. 3.5 Crore new seats will be added to Higher education institutions.

• NEP makes recommendations for motivating, energizing, and building capacity of faculty thorugh clearly defined, independent, transparent recruitment, freedom to design curricula/pedagogy, incentivizing excellence, movement into institutional leadership. Faculty not delivering on basic norms will be held accountable.

• A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, will be formulated by the NCTE in consultation with NCERT. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree. Stringent action will be taken against substandard stand-alone Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).

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