Despite an overall increase in financial allocation for the education sector and a push on digital learning modes – from the expansion of the PM e-VIDYA initiative to the proposal to launch a “digital university” and the development of e-content in all Indian languages — the Union budget has received mixed reactions from educators.
Although the focus on digital learning and the development of content in regional languages was welcomed, many wondered if the announcement would only remain lip service, as no “real roadmap” has yet been announced. was sketched.
Dr. Dishan Kamdar, Vice-Chancellor of FLAME University, called the decision to establish a digital university a “futuristic move” that will benefit a large number of students, even in the most remote parts of the country, by making accessible world-class education. “The plan to increase ‘One Class One TV Channel’ from 12 to 200 TV channels in all states will allow students to learn through radio and DTH channels, overcoming the problem of internet connectivity”, did he declare.
Dr Bhushan Patwardhan, national research professor, AYUSH and former vice-chairman of the University Grants Commission, said some announcements appeared to have been made “out of the blue” without a clear roadmap on implementation. “The announcement of the digital university is very popular but its nature is unclear. The problem lies in this – as soon as you come up with a new idea or proof of concept, it expands, not limits it. I fear this will pave the way for boutiques to emerge in the digital space. So far, I have not seen any document or discussion around this idea of a digital university. Also, I believe, nowhere in the world are 100% digital universities successful, some subjects perhaps. Education is not just about giving information to students, but about the whole experience, personal student-teacher interactions. I believe that if they use the term university, they will have to clarify and decide how it will work. Personally, I was hoping for more announcements on the implementation of several national education policy provisions introduced in 2020, such as the academic credit bank idea. If they had announced provisions for this, it could have eventually evolved into the idea of a digital university, which would have been a more careful and inclusive approach,” he said.
Vidya Yeravdekar, Pro-Chancellor of Symbiosis International University (deemed to be) also expressed reservations. “The digital university will be built on a networked hub-spoke model, with the hub developing cutting-edge ICT expertise, while the country’s top universities and public institutions will collaborate as a network of hub-spokes. This is a good and much needed step towards realizing universal personalized learning. However, it will challenge the spirit of universal learning if private universities/higher education institutions are not part of the hub-and-spoke network.
Wasudeo Gade, vice-president of Vishwakarma University, said the establishment of a digital university is a good proposal provided that the administrative, academic and examination structure and standards are comparable to those of general universities. “The quality of content, delivery and evaluation must not be compromised in any way. Research should also be carried out in this university. In addition, the budget mentioned the entry of foreign universities. I think our priority should be to strengthen our own universities first, and then we can think about competition. The provision of electronic content development as well as the creation of virtual laboratories for vocational education are good measures. But I wish there had been more emphasis on student skills at school and college levels, as well as industry-university interaction,” he said.