Many experiments with blended, virtual and digital learning that would have otherwise taken a decade to try and implement happened overnight (due to Covid-19), says Aditya Berlia, co-founder & pro-chancellor, Apeejay Stya University. The NEP, he tells FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, is a once in a half-century transformation of the education landscape, and its impact will be felt all across the ecosystem. Excerpts:
Has Covid-19 permanently changed how universities will conduct classes?
Many experiments with blended, virtual and digital learning that would have otherwise taken a decade to implement happened overnight. The largest impact will be on regulators who now have an astounding amount of data on how blended education can work in the real world. Parents and students who were sceptical of newer pedagogical methods got to experience them first hand, for better and worse. Professors overnight had to learn new skills. Post Covid-19 this change of mindset on what education looks like.
How will the NEP impact the higher education sector in general and private universities in particular?
The greatest impact will be the closing down of thousands of colleges that do not meet the new standard and criteria—while this is a sad event, it is a much-needed cleansing of the education landscape. Colleges need to choose between stepping up to a new level or gracefully exiting and merging with those who wish to go the distance. Those private universities built on strong long-term foundations will thrive, and students and scholars alike will greatly benefit from a more open, innovative, holistic and outcome-driven policy.
Why are a lot of new universities suddenly focusing on liberal arts?
Many people are confused what liberal arts mean and think it refers to humanities subjects. Liberal arts, in true essence, are a personal philosophy of scholarly development that enable students to achieve superior outcomes no matter which field they study in. At the Apeejay Stya University, the liberal arts approach allows us to create better leaders and specialists who have a higher chance of profoundly impacting the world.
While Indian private universities innovating and sharing best practices with global universities, not many feature high on international rankings. Why?
Each international college ranking is different and measures different things—often this ends up making them biased against new and innovative players and focusing on older, more established institutions. The NEP is the first step in allowing Indian institutions to compete with their international counterparts properly. The outcomes of our students already compare with the best of universities around the world. To go to the next level, we need the freedom to try new models that allow our institutions to leapfrog rather than slowly catch up over decades. I believe this transformation has begun.