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CBCS: A paradigm shift in Higher Education System of India

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BY: Dr. Akheela  Khanum/Shahjhan Mustafa

Education is a fundamental human right and it is responsibility of state authorities to deliver best education facilities to its citizens. Education is most effective method to boost socio-economic and political amplitude of any state. India after independence augmented emphasis on educational reconstruction and created institutions to frame strategies and policies to improve access and quality of education in India.

Indian education system can be broadly classified into three levels, primary education, secondary education and higher education. Education up to secondary level is called school education. After school education one can opt for higher education or university education. India after independence paid utmost importance to education starting from primary to the highest level of education. To ensure high level of standards and uniformity in the higher education system the Union Government in the year 1956 constituted a statutory 67body called University Grants Commission (UGC).The UGC maintains the standard of education, research, and examination in the higher education institutions. It make reforms into higher education system from time to time in order to make it at par with the international level of education, to improve the quality of education, and make it more acceptable at the global level. It acts as link between the Government and universities. It also provides guidelines for the selection and recruitment of teachers in these institutions.

The universities have significant freedom in controlling the curriculum and academic standards, the selection of teachers and students, research, and the allocation of internal resources. But because the importance of higher education, the Government has a legitimate interest in the operation of the institutions to make sure that they are providing the highpossible standards of education in the most effective way. The UGC tries to maintain an appropriate balance in this regard.

In line with its mission, the UGC in the year 2015 came up with a proposal to implement a new system of education in the higher education, which is called the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS). CBCS gives a student the flexibility to choose subjects from a pool of subjects which are categorized as Core, Elective, and Soft skills courses in each semester. Contrary to old system, CBCS assigns credits to each subject. A student can learn at his own pace and the assessments are graded based on a credit system. It provides an opportunity for him to have a choice of courses or subjects within a programme in each semester, against the fixed set of subjects now being offered, except for the limited choice of electives, with the flexibility to complete the programme by earning the required number of credits at a pace decided by the students. The choice of a subject depends on to the pre-requisite clearance before opting any such subject.

CBCS offers a number of advantages which include allowing the student to choose subjects according to his pace and is serviceable to both fast and slow learners. Fast learners can opt for more inter disciplinary subjects and can earn more credits whereas slow learners can choose fewer subjects depending on their interest. CBCS offers uniform grading system and allowseasy migration from one university to another within and outside the country. It helps recruiters to assess the performance of the students in a unified way.

Many teachers and students feel that CBCS has certain loopholes. RomilaThapar, renowned historian and Emerita professor at JNU, said “In this entire system, there will be two casualties. First, the standard of education in good universities will suffer. The second and bigger casualty is that universities will no longer be autonomous. It is essential for universities to be autonomous to devise reasonable teaching ways. What one fears, then, is that universities will be reduced to teaching shops and coaching centers,”.

Students feel that CBCS has created chaos and wastage of time and hence has caused delays in completing the syllabus. Some students opine that although a good initiative by UGC but the institutions have failed to handle it. Some students also argue that universities are charging them money for opting extra subjects. Universities, on the other hand are facing resistance to switch completely to CBCS due to shortage of infrastructure such as the class rooms, laboratories and human resources.

CBCS is in its starting phase and many higher education institutions have not yet accepted this paradigm shift completely. It is assumed that sooner or later the flexibility and advantages of this system would be accepted by all. Students will have to be made aware of the advantages of the system and how it works. The teaching fraternity in many institutions is of the opinion that no system can replace the traditional teaching learning practices. But, with the rapid adoption of technology by one and all, it could be assumed that new ways of teaching and learning could pave way for reforms in educational sector. CBCS is here to stay for long and if properly understood and implemented across the higher educational institutions of the country could offer a flexi framework for teachers and students to teach and learn at their own pace.

Dr. Akheela Khanum is a Professor and Head Department of Computer Science & Engineering at Integral University Lucknow. She can be mailed at akheela@iul.ac.in

Shahjhan Mustafa is an Independent Researcher. He can be mailed at meer771@gmail.com

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