Academic Bank of Credits

News: The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has recommended a revamp of the higher education scene in India. 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).

Academic Bank of Credits’ (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.
  • 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.
  • Flexible and multidisciplinary: One can enrol in an equivalent course from another college in the same city or join online courses offered by other universities; or can enrol in SWAYAM (a programme initiated by the Government of India) or the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) and add these credits. Thus, education will truly become flexible and interdisciplinary, without forcing any single institute to float an unmanageable number of courses.
  • This flexibility will offer students a chance to enrol in a course and learn from teachers from some of the best institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) or the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research.

Issues with ABC

  • ABC regulations say that the institute should allow up to 20% supernumerary seats for students enrolling through the ABC scheme. There is no clarity on how the selection of students would be made if there are more than 20% seats. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) platforms such as SWAYAM and NPTEL are ‘supposedly designed’ for large enrolments.
  • So far, we have not found any evidence in the public domain that these MOOC platforms can provide a reliable assessment of learning achievement if there is massive enrolment for a course.
  • The ABC portal will accept courses from a large inumber 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. This filtering criterion is not satisfactory.
  • The ABC scheme specifies that students can avail up to 70% of courses from other institutes while being enrolled in a particular college. If students avail these credits outside the parent college, they need not enrol for the corresponding in-house courses. 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?