New Initiative of UGC - ‘Academic Bank of Credits’ (ABC)
- 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.
- The UGC was founded in 1953 and became a formal organisation in 1956 when the UGC Act was passed.
- The UGC is in charge of organising, defining, and maintaining higher education standards.
- The University Grants Commission recognises universities in India and disburses funds to these institutions.
- The Ministry of Human Resource Development indicated in 2018 that the UGC Act of 1956 will be repealed.
- The law also calls for the establishment of the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).
What is ABC?
- 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.
Benefits of ABC
- Students will have several entry and exit possibilities under the ABC.
- This allows students to quit a degree or course and obtain a certificate, then return to studies after a set period of time and resume their studies from where they left off.
- It will also allow students to transfer between institutes while pursuing a single degree or drop out of a programme.
- ABC will help in credit verification, credit accumulation, credit transfer and redemption of students, and promotion of the students.
- The courses will also include online and distance mode courses offered through National Schemes like SWAYAM, NPTEL, V-Lab, etc.
- 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.
- That would mean 20 extra seats if there are 100 regular students. But there are 500 applications through the ABC scheme wanting to register for the course.
- So, how does the host institute (the IIT in our example) make the selection of 20 out of 500?
- The ABC portal will accept courses from a large number of higher education institutes.
- The filtering criterion in the original regulation was that higher education institutes should have obtained an ‘A’ grade or higher in the latest round of National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) accreditation (that filter has been removed now).
- As the number of teaching posts in any higher education institute are calculated on the basis of student enrolment numbers, what happens when a large fraction of students do not enrol for the courses offered by you?
- As a whole, this scheme has all the right and laudable intentions and would probably work well in a society with a more equitable distribution of resources.
- But in India, where the quality of education varies drastically from one institute to the next, this can lead to unmanageable academic and administrative issues in higher education institutes with brand names, and lead to a contraction in the number of teaching posts in smaller higher education institutes.
- With grade inflation being a real and imminent danger, the quality of degrees is bound to deteriorate. The UGC must rethink expeditiously how to implement this scheme.