One of the suggestions of National Education Policy 2020 towards making of Higher Education more Holistic and Multidisciplinary is to create an Academic Bank of Credit (ABC). The ABC or Academic Bank of Credit will digitally store all the Academic Credits earned from various Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs). These Credits will be used to ascertain if the student should be awarded the Degree after taking into consideration the Credits a student has earned.
As we understand the concept of Credits is majorly to create the concept of Educational learning more step-wise concept. Also, the concept if earning Credits will also increase the movement of students across courses (relevant) and HEIs, which could be due to any reason.
Though this is just a concept under the National Education Policy 2020, this is not exactly new. Many educational institutes abroad use the concept of Credits, not just in higher education, but at school level also. This is specially true for United States where the concept of Course Credits has been since long time now, including other countries, such as Canada, Brazil, etc.
Even in India, the concept is not exactly new. This concept has been introduced in various formats. In 2016, the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) had introduced the concept of National Academic Depository (NAD). The NAD was implemented via the DigiLocker, which is an initiative of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
National Academic Depository
Under the DigiLocker and NAD, the online depository to Academic institutions to store and publish their academic awards. The digital depository not only ensures easy access to and retrieval of an academic award but also validates and guarantees its authenticity and safe storage.
As per notice issued by UGC [D.O. No. F. 1-3/2017(NAD/MHRD)] as on 27 November, 2019, there were 1,106 Institutions who had already signed the SLA with the NAD and have uploaded their data.
You can access the DigiLocker NAD using this link.
National Academic Credit Bank (NAC-BANK)
The University Grants Commission (UGC) had issued a notification [D.O. No. 14-31/2018 (CPP-II)], on 11 December 2019, on the concept of National Academic Bank (NAC-BANK). The concept of NAC-BANK is similar to DigiLocker NAD but the purpose it will serve is quite wider than just keeping the academic credits. This notice by UGC explains the concept of NAC-BANK. As per the notification:
University Grants Commission initiated the concept of National Academic Credit Bank (NAC-BANK) which will be a digital / virtual / online entity to be established and managed by UGC. The main objective of the NAC-BANK would be to facilitate student mobility across the education system wherein the credits can be accumulated and be used at alter point of time for the requirements of partial fulfilment of a degree program.University Grants Commission (UGC) Notification
The above document gives details as to how would the NAC-BANK would be beneficial for the students, specially in transferring the Credits from one institute to another or in a scenario where the student needs to change their career path but is still able to use the credits which are relevant to latter course.
Number of times we have seen that students are not always sure what education program they want to select or they don’t know how to select the course that will benefit them most. Many a times these decisions are made either under the pressure of parents or due to peer-pressure.
The concept of accumulating Credits and using them is right and will be helpful for the students. It will give them the flexibility to select a course and if in the middle of it they realise the said course or stream is not best for them, they will be able to utilise the relevant credits in the newly selected course.
BUT! what is not clear is if NAC-BANK and ABC are both being pursued together. If both these are being pursued, then it seems that the Government policies are not Integrated at all. The UGC is governed by MHRD and the NEP2020 is also a product of MHRD. In this case, both the organisations should ensure that there is no duplicate efforts are made towards achieving similar goals.