NEP 2020: Introduction to Higher Education

Oct 9, 2020


Firstly, NEP 2020 establishes a holistic education philosophy at the root level of India’s Educational System through a 5+3+3+4 Schooling structure. Then, more importantly, it approaches the HE (Higher Education) System with a higher degree of farsightedness and thoroughness.

Ref: The 66-paged PDF document, titled “National Education Policy 2020 – Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India“, available on MHRD’s website.

Note: We recommend that you check our previous blogs on NEP 2020, which covers the 5+3+3+4 Schooling structure adequately. You may use the following links:

Introduction & Overview of School Education Policies
Student-centric Policies in School Education
Teacher-centric Policies in School Education
Policies on School Infrastructure
Policies on Learning Environment in Schools

Vision and Mission


Develop India as envisioned in its Constitution – a democratic, just, socially-conscious, cultured and humane nation upholding liberty, equality, fraternity and justice for all.


Create good, thoughtful, well-rounded and creative individuals through developing character, ethical and Constitutional values, intellectual curiosity, scientific temper, creativity, spirit of service and 21st century capabilities across a range of disciplines including sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, languages, as well as professional, technical and vocational subjects.

Core observations of NEP 2020 regarding Higher Education:

Not merely to get jobs!

  • The purpose of quality HE is much more than the creation of greater opportunities for individual employment (or simply, jobs).
  • HE represents the key to more vibrant, socially engaged, cooperative communities and a happier, cohesive, cultured, productive, innovative, progressive and prosperous nation.
  • HE must prepare students for more meaningful and satisfying lives. It must also enable economic independence.


Major issues faced by the existing Higher Education System:
issues with the HE system

  • A severely fragmented ecosystem.
  • Inadequate emphasis on the development of cognitive skills & learning outcomes.
  • Rigid separation of disciplines, with early specialization and streaming of students into narrow areas of study.
  • Limited access, particularly in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, with few HEIs that teach in local languages.
  • Limited teacher and institutional autonomy.
  • Inadequate mechanisms for merit-based career management and progression of faculty & institutional leaders.
  • Lesser emphasis on research at most universities and colleges, and lack of competitive peer-reviewed research funding across disciplines.
  • Suboptimal governance and leadership.
  • An ineffective regulatory system.
  • Large affiliating universities resulting in low standards of undergraduate education.


NEP 2020 proposes the following changes to handle the issues identified above:
Fixing the HE issues

  • Move towards a HE system consisting of large, multidisciplinary universities and colleges.
  • Shift to a more multidisciplinary undergraduate education.
  • Bring in faculty and institutional autonomy.
  • Revamp curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and student support for enhanced student experience.
  • Reaffirm the integrity of faculty and institutional leadership positions through merit appointments and career progression based on teaching, research and service.
  • Establish a National Research Foundation to fund outstanding peer-reviewed research, and to actively seed research in universities and colleges.
  • Govern HEIs through highly-qualified independent boards having academic and administrative autonomy.
  • Implement “light but tight” regulation by a single regulator for higher education.
  • Effect increased access, equity, and inclusion through a range of measures, including greater opportunities for outstanding public education:
    – scholarships by private/philanthropic universities for disadvantaged and underprivileged students.
    – online education, and Open Distance Learning (ODL).
    – all infrastructure and learning materials to be accessible and available to learners with disabilities.


NEP 2020 elaborates its policies on HE under the following 11 heads:
check these heads

  1. Quality Universities and Colleges.
  2. Institutional Restructuring and Consolidation.
  3. Towards a More Holistic and Multidisciplinary Education.
  4. Optimal Learning Environments and Support for Students.
  5. Motivated, Energized and Capable Faculty.
  6. Equity and Inclusion in Higher Education.
  7. Teacher Education.
  8. Reimagining Vocational Education.
  9. Catalyzing Quality Academic Research in All Fields through a new National Research Foundation.
  10. Transforming the Regulatory System of Higher Education.
  11. Effective Governance and Leadership for HE Institutions (HEIs).


We’ll explore the above topics adequately in separate/dedicated blogs. Please follow us on Social Media so that you’ll be notified when we publish blogs.

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Timelines for Higher Education:

By 2025:

  • At least 50% of India’s Students to have exposure to vocational education, through the School and HE systems.

By 2030:

  • All Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to become multidisciplinary, positioned well to gradually increase student strength to the desired levels of one-thousand and above.
  • There must be at least one large multidisciplinary HEI in or near every district of the country.
  • Only educationally-sound, multidisciplinary, and integrated teacher education programs shall be in force.
  • All stand-alone TEIs (Teacher Education Institutions) will be required to convert to multidisciplinary institutions. If they are dysfunctional, they may be shut down.
  • The 4-year integrated B.Ed. offered by multidisciplinary HEIs to become the basic qualification for school teachers.

By 2035:

  • The system of ‘affiliated colleges’ to be gradually phased out through a system of graded autonomy.
  • All HEIs in India to become independent self-governing institutions, pursuing innovation and excellence, through graded accreditation and autonomy.
  • All HEIs to be incentivized, supported and mentored, and must become autonomous with an empowered BoG (Board of Governors).

By 2040:

  • All Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that are already multidisciplinary institutions by 2030 to have larger student enrolments preferably in the thousands.



NEP 2020 makes it very clear that the purpose of the country’s Higher Education system is not merely to prepare its youth for jobs. While enabling the youth with all necessary skills for their employment in various roles, the HE system must ensure that they become good & productive Citizens of the country, and are happy & satisfied with both their individual and collective lives.




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