As colleges and universities open their gates for this academic year, prospective students are inundated with a platter of degree programs based on their varied interests. In addition to looking at the specificities of each program, what may also help students is to understand the logic and necessity behind the formulation of different courses that each of these programs offer.
The design and addition of new courses in higher education is mostly necessitated by the gaps in the ongoing curriculum, which make themselves apparent over the years. In a similar vein, the formulation and introduction of new courses is not a solitary decision that is taken overnight. Rather, it is a rigorous process that requires multiple stakeholders, including academicians, industry experts and pedagogy experts, governmental bodies, and the students themselves. It is a long and an arduous journey but this article tries to simplify and present the entire process for you:
Step 1: Thorough research by the Board of Studies
Once the need for introducing new courses has been identified, the first step is the establishment of a Board of Studies. The Board of Studies is a panel constituted by industry experts, academicians and government representatives who are expected to work together to develop a draft for the proposed courses, and prepare a report. This is done after having conducted thorough ground research that backs its necessity. Also taken into consideration are the predicted requirements of the market and the industry at a local and a global level. Once this data has been collated and collected, and the draft course formulated, the report that has been developed should ascertain that the courses should adhere to the governmental guidelines established by the University Grants Commission (UGC). For instance, to get a new course in law approved, UGC would ensure that it fulfils all the requirements established by the Bar Council of India (UGC,2021 –Point 2.1). Therefore, as long as the industry need is fulfilled and the regulations of the respective councils are followed, UGC permits most new courses to be introduced. Resultantly, once the report has been prepared with a draft outline of the course, it is presented to the Academic Council for further deliberation.
One thing to take note with the introduction of National Education Poilicy-2020 (NEP,2020) is that the UGC plans to dissolve most professional Councils, except for some statutory bodies like Medical Council of India, and the Bar Council of India (NEP,2020 – Point 18.3). However, this remains to be seen in the next couple of years.
Step 2: Approval by the Academic Council
Once the final report and the draft course curriculum has been formulated, it is passed on to the Academic Council, which is constituted of chosen faculty members of every department in the university, as well as industry experts who had been part of the Board of Studies.
The first step by the Council is to verify the validity of the course. This includes crosschecking the UGC guidelines, as well as the requirements of the respective professional councils, if applicable. Once this has been checked and verified, the Academic Council decides on the other interdepartmental courses that could supplement the students’ learnings and add to the things they learn in the new course. For instance, if the new course introduced is in the domain of forensic sciences, then chemistry, biology, and genetics are some likely courses that can be added additionally to the schedule. This is because these courses are probable to have some additional value for the student, and are likely to complement their learning in the forensic sciences course. The same logic is applied to all new courses, be it in artificial intelligence, business analytics, or Shakespeare. Once these courses have been determined and recommended, the proposal is forwarded to the Board of Management.
Step 3: Review by the Board of Management (BOM)
Once the proposal has been received, the Board of Management (which is the second highest body of the university) is expected to review the draft course and the course recommendations made by the members of the Academic Council, including the faculty and industry experts. After careful consideration, the Board prepares the final course and sends it to the Board of Governors for certification and approval.
Step 4: Approval by the Board of Governors(BOG)
The final course is sent by the BOM to the Board of Governors (BOG), the highest body of the university. The BOG, after carefully reviewing the recommendations by the Academic Council and the BOM, finally approves the new course, which then means that the students of the university can begin enrolling for it.
While the process seems fairly easy right now, there is a lot of careful consideration that goes into the formulation of any new course, and the mark of a good course is that it is not static but rather dynamic. It is imperative that in this fast-moving world, the course and its syllabus are contemporary and up-to-date. Furthermore, a good university should attempt to make its curriculum dynamic and constantly update it according to the latest developments in the respective fields. In fact, this is one of the subtle markers of a good university. A university that imparts outdated knowledge fails to create leaders who look to the future, and so, look into whether your university of choice regularly updates its courses or not.
Hopefully, this article has given you some insights into how universities create courses. However, the key thing to remember is that university courses only aids in establishing the foundation of your knowledge, and the true learning begins when you are able to implement the knowledge you have gained. Good luck and Godspeed on your educational journey.
Important Note * – Please bear in mind that the outline provided in this article is a standard procedure followed in most Private Universities in India. The board names may differ in some university setup , but the overall structure would remain the same. Also most importantly any course created is subject to the authorisation and approval of the statutory bodies of both the Government and the individual universities.
NEP,2021. National Education Policy 2020. [online] Available at: <https://www.education.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/NEP_Final_English_0.pdf> [Accessed 4 August 2021].
UGC, 2021. GUIDELINES FOR ESTABLISHING NEW DEPARTMENTS WITHIN THE CAMPUS, SETTING UP OF OFF-CAMPUS CENTER(S) / INSTITUTION(S)/ OFFSHORE CAMPUS AND STARTING DISTANCE EDUCATION PROGRAMMES BY THE DEEMED UNIVERSITIES. [online] Ugc.ac.in. Available at: <https://www.ugc.ac.in/oldpdf/xplanpdf/Guidelines%20for%20New%20Dept.%20in%20Deemed%20Universities.pdf> [Accessed 4 August 2021].
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