Uma Keni Prabhu
From the current academic year, all the universities in the state will have to follow the same Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) at the Under Graduate (UG) and Post Graduate (PG) levels.
A high powered committee of Vice Chancellors (VC) of the state’s prominent universities, which was constituted a couple of months back to look into the uniform credit based grading system at the UG and PG levels in all universities in Maharashtra, has just turned in its report.
The State Higher and Technical Education Department had formed the Committee under the chairmanship of Dr Rajan Velukar, VC, Mumbai University, following a directive from the University Grant Commission (UGC).
Higher Education Minister Rajesh Tope says, “We have asked all the universities to adopt and implement CBCS from this academic year. Of course, this doesn’t mean that things will change overnight. But this is a step in the right direction.”
The recommendations are expected to change the face of the education sector radically. From now on all degree courses will have the same credits. “We have fixed the number at 80,” says Dr Vijay Pandharipande, VC, Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University (BAMU) and one of the committee members.
Dr Vasudha Kamat, VC, SNDT Women’s University, Dr WN Gade, VC, Pune University, and Dr. NM Pawar, VC, Shivaji University Kolhapur are the other members.
Dr Pandharipande explains, “Earlier the Science stream had more credits - 96 to 100, and the Arts and Social Sciences had only 64 credits. We have proposed that since the degree that is conferred upon students is the same there is no reason why one course should have more credits than the other.”
The committee has also recommended that Arts and Social Sciences courses should include case studies, seminars, projects and more. “This approach is necessary to increase students’ employability, “Dr Pandharipande says.
The recommendations seek to introduce flexibility. A student whose major credits are in his core subject will now have the flexibility to do credits in other subjects. “Like a Sociology major can now do 4 credits of Yoga or 4 credits of economics along with his core subject,” says Dr. Pandharipande.
BAMU has already implemented this. “Our experience is fantastic. We have a girl who is doing MSc in Chemistry. She has a very good voice. We are letting her do some credits in Music - we call it Music Service Course,” Dr Pandharipande adds.
The committee deliberated at length on the matter regarding credit accumulation and credit sharing by the universities. For some reason, however, the debate remained inconclusive.
Dr. Velukar, however, is optimistic. “In due course of time ‘credit sharing’ will allow students to take some courses from one university and the major part of the courses from another university, which will offer them a degree.”
CBCS also offers multiple entries and multiple exits to students. If a student has taken admission to a PG degree program and has dropped out after completing one year, then her year is not wasted if she has accumulated 40 credits.
“We can now offer her a Post Graduate Diploma in the same subject,” says Dr. Vasudha Kamat, VC, SNDT Women’s University.
Academicians say this is the need of the hour. Most developed countries have adopted this system. “Our students will now have access to globally accepted norms about credits,” says Dr. Kamat.
Dr. Suhas Pednekar, Principal Ruia College agrees with Dr. Kamat. “There is a credit system everywhere. So whenever our students go abroad they face the problem of equalization. Foreign universities do not give importance to marks scored. This new system will solve that problem.”
Faculty, however, has shown some resistance. Continuous evaluation of students is a huge task. Unless the class strength is reduced, it is difficult to cope with these pressures, says Dr. Pednekar.
Minister Tope feels the teaching community needs to be sensitized about this. Mumbai University has already started work on this. They have held close to 150 workshops of principals and faculty members at the district level to sensitize them about the new system. They have also created a manual regarding this. So far the response is good.
“The new system will have some teething problems in the beginning but we will have to let it stabilise,” says Dr. Velukar optimistically.
Many Maharashtra universities are already following the CBCS system. Mumbai University started the credit semester and grading system at the UG level two years ago and at the PG level last year.
SNDT University adopted the credit system at the Home Science faculty since 1986 and at the Master level programmes since 2001.