07 Dec 2020 18:14 IST

Technical education could do with multiple entry-exit options

Chairman, Board of Governors, NITK, calls for varied UG certification options, flexible PG programmes

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is expected to bring far-reaching changes to the current education system, with proposals for multiple entry and exit options for students. With a thrust on holistic multidisciplinary education, NEP mentions that imaginative and flexible curricular structures will enable creative combinations of disciplines for study, removing currently prevalent rigid boundaries and creating new possibilities for life-long learning.

K Balaveera Reddy, Chairman of the Board of Governors of National Institute of Technology Karnataka (NITK), Mangaluru, says that the NEP 2020 has a well-defined path for general higher education.

 

K Balaveera Reddy, Chairman of the Board of Governors, NITK

 

 

Stressing the need for extending multiple entry and exit options for professional education, he said he has submitted the structure and duration of technical degree programmes to K Kasturirangan, Chairman of the Committee for National Education Policy.

Reddy, who was the Vice-Chancellor of Visvesaraya Technological University of Karnataka for two consecutive terms, said the duration and specialisations have wide variation in the professional undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) education in engineering, medical, architecture, legal studies, In his suggestions submitted to Kasturirangan, Reddy feels that there may be a need for a clear definition of entry and exit options in technical education to avoid the confusion but still providing desirable flexibility at the same time.

At present, the duration of the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes in technical education are four and two years, respectively.

Multidisciplinary UG degree

Explaining his idea, Reddy said the professional UG degree programmes can be of four or five-year duration with multiple entry and exit options. Appropriate certification can be considered for exits within this period.

For example, if a student completes the first-year programme and exits, that student can be given a certificate in that particular UG programme. If the student leaves after the completion of the second year, he/she can be given a diploma in that UG programme. An exit after the completion of the third year can lead to the granting of an advanced diploma in that UG programme. He said this option is not there for the non-professional course. The candidate gets the usual Bachelor’s degree after four years of completion of the UG programme.

Suggesting a five-year multidisciplinary UG degree programme, he said the certification process can remain the same for the first three years. If the student leaves in the fourth year, he/she should get a four-year Bachelor’s degree. The student should get a five-year Bachelor’s degree with advanced internship and research after completing the five-year course. “With research and advanced internship, these students will have better placement opportunities,” he said.

Integrated UG-PG programmes

On the PG programmes, he said higher education institutes will have the flexibility to offer different designs of PG programmes. A two-year PG programme can be offered to those students who have completed the four-year UG programme with the second year of the PG programme devoted entirely to research. There can also be a one-year PG programme for those students who have completed the five-year multidisciplinary UG programme.

He also suggested an integrated six-year Bachelor’s/Master’s degree programme, and an integrated five-year Bachelor’s/Master’s degree programme.

Referring to the integrated five-year Bachelor’s/Master’s degree programme, he said some intelligent students may be able to get very good credits during their UG programme. If they complete the curricula of the first year of the PG programme, in the third and fourth years of UG programme, they can be given Master’s degree at the end of fifth year. Taking the additional curricula may not be difficult for such students.

By the time they complete four years, they will be completing the four-year Bachelor’s degree along with the PG diploma. “With this five-year integrated UG/PG programme, the student will be saving one year that can be better utilised,” Reddy said. He said Kasturirangan, who appreciated his efforts to look at the policy in detail, has forwarded his suggestions to the Education Secretary.

Asked what will happen if a candidate takes a long gap between exit and re-entry to a programme, he said there is a need to focus on the duration for re-entry. The curriculum would have seen so many changes, if a person wants to join after five years of his/her exit. Then there should be a sort of bridge course for such candidates who want to re-join the course, he said.

Stating that he has given a basic structure on the multiple entry and exit options in technical education, Reddy said more discussions on this may lead to a better structure.

Curricula revamp

Stressing the need to revamp the technical education curricula to become multidisciplinary, Reddy said there should be a flexible curricula structure and creative combination of disciplines.

Giving an example, he said Mechanical Engineering can have specialisations in many areas. There can be specialisations in automobile, industrial production, aeronautical, navigation and shipping, instrumentation, mechatronics, medical instruments, dental materials, to name a few, he said. “In addition to specialisation, students should be allowed to take a few subjects connected with his/her choice,” he added.

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