To ensure the desired academic continuity in Indian HEIs, it is recommended that some of the actions are taken centrally to address common issues across the board including the governance of the planning, regulatory flexibility, quality assurance, funding mechanisms, and centralised academic content management.
At a centralised level, it is recommended to understand and plan the course of action. For this, a central task force should be created to work on creating a repository of HEIs across the country with following details –
It would then be useful to coordinate with all institutions to classify them based on the ideal type of continuity – Online/Physical/Broadcast/Hybrid. Based on the type, a readiness checklist should be provided to the institution, which can be self-attested and audited by the HEI. The results of these should be shared with the central task force, to evaluate the current readiness status of HEIs to resume operations.
Based on this, further policy and infrastructure planning will need to be done to support the institutions which have the desired readiness to resume classes.
Based on the various challenges faced in taking forward the semesters in times of COVID-19, physical campuses may not resume for a while. Therefore, if institutions resume classes in online and broadcast mode, they may not be able to accomplish all requirements of an academic year, given the various infrastructural and resource limitations. Also, if physical classrooms do resume, they will operate under the new guidelines of the pandemic, thereby requiring certain flexibilities. Thus, it is recommended that certain essential areas documented below should be considered for certain regulatory relaxation, further to what may have been provided, and that these are regularly revised based on the progress of the current crisis.
It would be useful to coordinate with all institutions to classify them based on the ideal type of continuity – Online/Physical/ Broadcast/Hybrid.
Given the new norms under which classes may operate in the physical, online, hybrid or broadcast mode, the quality assurance mechanisms will need to be revised keeping in mind the new normal. It would help institutions, if the central bodies could create a central self-audit quality checklist which can ensure uniform and standardised implementation across all HEIs. This should be diﬀerent based on the mode of academic continuity and also take into consideration the health safety of all stakeholders.
Given the new norms under which classes may operate in the physical, online, hybrid or broadcast mode, the quality assurance mechanisms will need to be revised keeping in mind the new normal.
Based on the initial classification of HEIs, their requirements should be gathered as well. This will allow centralising the procurement of goods and therefore be more cost-eﬀective.
The key infrastructure requirements could be:
Based on this, the requirements could be aggregated and then based on large numbered requirements, a central agency could collaborate with private sector organisations to provide relief of cost overhead to HEIs in the following ways:
The GOI may also identify funding tools and opportunities to provide some financial respite to HEIs which may be limited by the impact of the admissions. This support may need to be extended to private institutions as well.
CREATION OF CENTRALISED ACADEMIC CONTENT
Special teams of academics can be deployed to create one-time content for online classrooms/MOOCs for the common subjects which can then be utilised across all HEIs, similar to Swayam. Additional budget can be assigned for engaging with Online Program Management (OPM) to have a special curriculum built. This way the expenditure can be minimised, quality can be standardised, and eﬀort can be streamlined to create class content which gets deployed to all HEIs, especially the ones which do not have the capacity to create content or conduct online classrooms.
Special teams of academics can be deployed to create one-time content for online classrooms/MOOCs for the most common subjects which can then be utilised across all HEIs.