Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

National Education Policy needs scrutiny


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Provisions in the National Education Policy

Mains level: Paper 2- National Education Policy

National Education Policy, while comprehensive in its approach misses out on some crucial issues. These issues are discussed here.

Following are the issues with the National Education Policy-

1) Implications for SEDGs

  •  Implications of the policy for SEDGs-Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups-needs to be considered.
  • The term “caste” is absent from the document apart from a fleeting reference to Scheduled Castes.
  • Also absent is any mention of reservation in academic institutions, whether for students, teachers, or other employees.
  • Reservation is the bare minimum required in terms of affirmative action in the highly differentiated socio-economic milieu in which we exist.

2) Education in tribal areas

  • There is the passing reference to educational institutions in tribal areas, designated as ashramshalas.
  • While there are sections of the document that describe ways in which SEDGs are supposed to gain access to higher education institutions, there is no time-frame that is specified.
  • In a situation of growing privatisation how these policies will be implemented is a matter of concern.

3) Multi-disciplinarity misses some disciplines

  • Multi-disciplinarity is an attractive and flexible proposition, allowing learners to experiment with a variety of options.
  • While the list of the disciplines in which multi-disciplinary approach is allowed is unexceptionable, it is worth flagging what is missed out.
  • Fields of studies such as Women’s Studies or Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Dalit Studies, Studies of Discrimination and Exclusion, Environmental Studies and Development Studies are missing.
  • Many of these have engaged with multi-disciplinarity/inter-disciplinarity in exciting and disturbing ways, bringing to the fore issues of diversity, difference and identity.

4) Problem of autonomy

  • While the documents mention autonomy and choice in the document, but there are limits.
  • For instance, the selection of vocational subjects in middle school is described as a fun choice.
  • At the same time, it is to be exercised “as decided by States and local communities and as mapped by local skilling needs”.
  • National Testing Agency, will be a centralised agency to conduct exams will be against the autonomy proposed in the policy.
  • HEIs will now be run by a Board of Governors backed by legislative changes where required.
  •  Further centralisation is envisaged through the setting up of “the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA).

5) Depriving the HEI democratic functioning

  • Several universities and HEIs have evolved and sustained democratic mechanisms, including academic and executive councils.
  • What has made them vibrant institutions is the presence of faculty and students, elected, as well as on the basis of seniority and rotation.
  • Abandoning them will deprive members of HEIs of an opportunity to engage with the challenges of democratic functioning.

6) No mention of Fundamental Rights

  • Several values are identified as constitutional and there is an occasional mention of fundamental duties.
  • But there is no mention of fundamental rights.

Consider the question “Examine the provision for governance of education in the National Education Policy. Also, examine the issues with the policy.”


The Education Policy has many novel ideas with the potential to transform the education system in the country, however, the issues discussed here highlights the need to revisit it, before it is actually implemented.

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