Credit transfer is no longer a Western concept. As part of the 'meta university' initiative, students in India, too, can now be part of a system, which will offer flexibility and cross-university education, ensuring credit transfer between participating universities. S. M. Sajid, registrar, Jamia Millia Islamia, explains that the concept of meta university is a new one and a radical step taken by four universities - Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi - to pool in their resources and offer programmes at the postgraduate level.
Dinesh Singh, vice-chancellor, Delhi University, adds, "We hope to launch one aspect of meta university this July. It will be a Master's programme in mathematics in collaboration with Jamia Millia Islamia. The course will be delivered through a combination of online teaching, classroom studies and substantial project work. It is a 'limited' experiment that we are doing this year with not more than 10 students in the class. We will expand next year with more students." Elaborating, Sajid informs that the four institutes will jointly design and develop the courses, concentrating on three areas - PG diploma in public health, climate change and education.
"We would like to convert the diploma programmes to a full-fledged MA programme so that credit transfers can take place. We would also like to work on semester-transfers," he says. Through semester-transfers, students can pick up and study a course in one college and later transfer it to another college. These programmes will be for two semesters. "Initially," Sajid informs, "we will have 30 seats for these courses. We are yet to finalise the eligibility criteria but most likely the eligibility criteria will be minimum 50% marks in graduation, along with an entrance test." However, senior academics are skeptical and feel that India is not yet ready for the meta university concept.
According to Dr. N. Prabhu Dev, vice-chancellor, Bangalore University, it is not a workable plan as more than 75% of the universities in India are not accredited. "In fact, some universities are only research-centric. How would they then link e-learning and content sharing with other universities?" G Raghurama, director, BITS Pilani, however, feels that for the concept to succeed, it is imperative that there is a uniform structure and common practices in place. BITS Pilani has a credit transfer facility with some of the institutes in the US. But, as of now, it does not have a similar structured collaboration with any institute in India.
Most universities in India, Raghurama stresses, do not have a uniform and common structure. Universities in the US have a broad consensus on how the curriculum is designed and other related aspects. "The concept can work in India, provided top universities who are progressive and have built in the best practices are involved. Conventional universities without a uniform structure may find it difficult to have the logistics in place for such an arrangement," he says. Curriculum Change Abhijit Chakrabarti, vice-chancellor of Jadavpur University (JU), believes that the concept is definitely a beginning in the right direction.
Through this concept, universities can diversify their curriculum and reach out to more people. The education system in India, says Chakrabarti, is like an inverted pyramid, but implementation of this concept will turn it into a pyramid-structure with the option of pursuing an UG degree available to more students. As to whether JU has any future plans in a similar direction, Chakrabarti informs that JU has received the proposal from UGC just two to three days ago. "We are giving it the highest level of importance and are favourably disposed towards this idea," he says.
JNU is still in the process of finalising the model and methodology for the meta courses. Internal discussions are on with UGC at present. "The plan is in a fluid stage right now. Public health, climate change and education are the three broad areas we have decided for the programme as of now. We have a couple of meetings this week, after which the details and structure of the meta plan will be out from our end," informs SK Sopory, vice-chancellor, JNU. - With inputs from Shashank Venkat in Mumbai; Amrapali Saha in Kolkata; Poonam Jain in Bangalore; Aaditi Isaac and Vatsala Shrangi in Delhi
Courtesy: Times of India