UGC takes the right step

The University Grants Commission (UGC) notification to bring in a uniform grade and assessment system – the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) – across universities in India from the coming academic year, is a step in the right direction, the need for which was sorely felt in recent times. With more students migrating to various states outside their homes for higher education, it is becoming difficult to assess the academic quality of a migrating student as each university has its own manner of evaluating students. A plethora of grades, values and marks means it is next to impossible to get a comprehensive idea of how a student is. While common entrance exams are one way of evaluating students from various regions, states and study patterns, a common grading system will obviate the need for added entry tests to get into various courses. 

As it stands now, it is an arduous, if not impossible, task to shift from one university to another especially if a student is forced to move mid-way through a course as the rules governing study and assessment are completely different from one to the other. The shift
to the new system will make such movement a lot easier, even if it is not a cakewalk.

The CBCS’ other component -- to allow students to pick and choose what they want to major in, or as their electives and minor courses under an “a la carte” model – is even more path-breaking. In one swoop, the UGC’s move will bring in a fundamental transformation of the higher education system. The Indian university system, among the most rigid in the world, allows no such luxury at the moment. The combination of subjects at the university level is fixed, one cannot mix science with arts or commerce nor is it possible for students to change their stream mid-way through a course.

The choices for the students are limited and fixed. In recent years, some private universities have brought in new combinations and an innovative mix of subjects, yet it is nowhere near a freewheeling choice as in the western education system. For instance, it is even scandalous to contemplate a diverse combination of say, Maths, Music and Economics. It is in such a strait-jacketed system that the UGC now wants the choice to rest with the student. This can make the system flexible and bring out the best in a student. Moreover, innovative combinations have the potential to yank up falling standards and motivate students to do justice to what they have chosen. A win-win situation for the student and the university.

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