The National Education Policy 2020 aims to transform the education system from the early preschool stages to the advanced higher education model. Among the major changes in the latter, the setting up of a single body for facilitating the entire higher education, Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) is key. This decision brings together the entire higher education system under one governing umbrella.
In the pre-NEP 2020 stage, the NAAC, UGC and AICTE were significant in their respective roles. First, let us define their specific goals in order to understand how they stand changed post the declaration of the new Policy.
Interpreting NAAC, UGC and AICTE
  • National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)
    As the name suggests, this Council assesses and accredits Higher Education Institutions in India. It ensures that the overall quality standards of such institutions are met with at all times. Whether it is the curriculum, teaching methods, student learning outcomes, infrastructure, governance or the financial well-being of students, the NAAC is instrumental in keeping up the smooth functioning of all the Indian colleges, universities and higher education institutions by regularly assessing them on varied parameters.
  • University Grants Commission of India (UGC)
    In addition to providing recognition to the Higher Education Institutions, the UGC disburses funds to the said institutions. Any university giving out degrees without the relevant recognition of UGC is deemed not eligible. It has been in the news in the recent past for declaring 24 universities across several states as fake. So, it is a powerful body that ensures authenticity in higher education.
  • All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)
    This is a governing body for technical education in India. It is instrumental in the planning, implementation and development of technical and management education. By conducting periodic surveys, this Council is given the task of ensuring that the facilities in such institutes are as per the set norms by means of an integrated and coordinated system.
How does the National Education Policy 2020 change the current situation?
According to the new Policy, the HECI or the Higher Education Commission of India is the sole governing body for all higher education institutions. This will dissolve the NAAC, UGC and AICTE and new bodies will be formed to address the needs and monitor the functioning of such institutions.
  • The National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC), the first vertical of HECI, will take care of teacher training and education departments, in addition to the technical and engineering colleges, institutes.
  • The second vertical of HECI is the National Accreditation Council (NAC) and will replace the existing NAAC.
  • The Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) is the third vertical and as the name suggests, it will take over the activities of the UGC by implementing transparency as the core principle.
  • As the fourth vertical, the General Education Council (GEC) is meant to enhance the student learning outcomes by defining the ideal education processes. It has also been given the task of creating the National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF).
Though the functions are similar to those of the current governing bodies, these new verticals are different in that they are answerable to a single Council and that is the HECI. Accreditations, funding, assessments, teaching-learning processes, grants, and training are some of the major aspects that will be streamlined by the new bodies.
There is another aspect which has been mentioned in the new NEP and comes across as an effective means to improve the overall learning experience of students pursuing higher education and this is online teaching-learning.
The role of ICT in education
The basis of the formation of the new NEP 2020 is transparency in education across levels and efficiency in the teaching-learning process. This is to be implemented with the help of information and communication technologies. Effective and timely communication is significant for the smooth functioning of educational institutions and hence, the use of edTech is being promoted by the Higher Education Commission of India. Automation tools in education are also being proposed for the purpose.
Though it is still in the early stages, the implementation of the National Education Policy 2020, can redefine education in India. With a more holistic learning process being incorporated in a centralized system of education, the overall aim is to create equal opportunities to everyone pursuing education and at all levels.