It is expected that the Minimum Standards of Architecture Education Regulations, 2020 released recently by the Council of Architecture (COA) will go a long way in aligning the architectural education with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 announced earlier. These Regulations have been in the making for a long time and have finally seen the light of the day after a long wait since the previous Regulations which were made in 1983. The success of the new regulations, though pathbreaking in many respects, depends upon its effective implementation. Some of the highlights of the new regulations are:
- Candidates will get a chance to exit the architecture programme post three years. The council will award an “appropriate degree” to those students.
- Choice Based Credit System has been introduced along with training experience in the eighth and ninth semester of the course.
- Recognises the need to conduct study tours to cultural and historical sites and the introduction of national and international exchange programmes.
- Candidate can seek admission to the architecture programmes based on the marks he has obtained in the class 12 board exams and in the National Aptitude Test (NAT) in Architecture.
- These regulations will come into force from the 1 November, 2020 and would supersede the 1983 Regulations.
- As focus has been laid on bridging the gap between academics and the industry, flexibility has been introduced in the course. Now there will be a semester exchange option as well as more in-hand training.
- The faculty of the architectural courses will have the scope of conducting private practice and research.
To find out the ground reality about architecture education in India, Sawdust spoke to cross section of academicians, professors and architects. Though many of their points have been already considered in the new regulations drafted by CoA there are some views which also deserve Council’s attention. In the foregoing paragraphs, the views of some academicians have been discussed.
Shortage of teaching staff
One of the greatest challenges being faced by education system in general in India and architecture colleges in particular is the shortage of teaching staff. The problem has been aggravated by steep rise in the number of architecture colleges in recent years.
The problem is not restricted to just some new colleges but it’s all pervasive encountered by central universities, state universities and stand-alone colleges. This problem has been continuing as the biggest handicap for the development and growth of architecture education vis-à-vis maintaining the quality of education. According to some retired professors the problem of shortage of teaching staff is due to two reasons – first, young students are not attracted towards the teaching profession and secondly, the recruitment process is a prolonged one and involves too many procedural formalities. There is also lack of proper system to ensure regular Performance Appraisal of the teachers.
Teachers’ exposure to global arena restricted
It’s also complained that UGC had a scheme under which teachers working in universities/colleges who are to present their research contribution in international conferences were reimbursed their travelling expenses and this used to be a good incentive to the teachers to present their findings and also get international exposure. However, now the scheme has been discontinued for reasons unknown affecting a large number of motivated teachers.
Some relaxations to ease the shortage
Considering the severity of the problem some measures are being taken like increasing the retirement age to 65 and improvement of salary structure. UGC is also allowing the University to re-employ superannuated teachers for a maximum period of five years, i.e. up to 70 years against sanctioned vacant post, if such posts are not filled up by regular candidates. Also, faculty recruitment has been allowed on part time basis with the same selection procedure which is done for regular recruitment.
Increased incentives to attract talent
Intensive efforts are being made to attract talented, bright and qualified young men and women to college and University jobs. The entry point incentives have been substantially increased. The UGC Regulations, 2010 has prescribed norms for improvement in service conditions for the new entrant, in terms of better working and leave conditions, career advancement prospects, retirement benefits etc.
CoA regulation considers some burning issues
The present programme announced by CoA makes the teacher training programme mandatory before joining the instruction programme. There is also a talk about re-visiting the pay scales which will be detailed in a future government directive.
Faculty mobility should be promoted
Many academicians felt that there should be enhanced scope for faculty progress in the architecture colleges which is presently lacking. There should be specific value-based training modules across the academic staff colleges in Indian Universities. Faculty mobility across Central Universities should be promoted and encouraged. Similarly, expertise from the private sector and industry to should be encouraged to be part of teaching through a system like in the West. The teachers, especially younger recruits, should be institutionally and structurally allowed to establish a record of published research, ability to attract grant funding, academic institutions, teaching excellence and administrative or community service.
More integration needed
In many cases the architecture colleges in the country are stand alone and not integrated with other science, Arts, law and medicine faculties to develop a multi-disciplinary approach. The lack of interaction with other disciplines is affecting the creating and innovative capabilities of the youngsters.
Rural colleges at disadvantage
Students and teachers in urban universities receive good exposure in academically vibrant campuses. But a student of a university located in a rural area is deprived of such opportunities even if they are intellectually on par with students and teachers of urban universities. A teacher in any of the universities in Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad etc can accumulate their API scores by just attending seminars in and around the city. But in the case of a teacher from a remote area wants to attend a good quality seminar they may have to spend a lot of energy, money and time. Therefore, there should be a scheme to bridge this gap and students of rural and remote places must get some time to spend at great universities.
Rating is based on material and tangible things
Rating/grading of institutions by NAAC and NCTE is mainly based on material and tangible things and they give least importance to intellectual aspect. As a result, an institution which is well settled with beautiful edifice, high quality technological devices etc will be rated as a good institution by NAAC and NCTE. A government college with better quality teaching staff but poor building and other infrastructure will be rated low by NAAC and NCTE as well. This is mainly because the criteria set by these agencies look for tangible inputs most of which can be purchased from market. Therefore, public funded institutions must be evaluated using a separate set of criteria.
Teacher training should be made mandatory
Institutionalization of pre-service teacher training for college teachers and university teachers is an important measure which needs to be implemented on a priority basis. At present the qualification for a teacher to enter into university education system is a post-graduation with UGC or PhD. Unfortunately, nowhere a teacher training course is a basic qualification for a teacher to enter in to a higher education institution, including architecture college. It is not the content, but the way content is transferred is important in teaching. A teacher preparation course may not be a solution for all such issues but it can improve quality of teaching understanding the students and thereby improving the teacher learning process. So, a teacher education programme must be made mandatory for the teachers to work in architecture colleges.
Choice Based Credit System
An important highlight of the new regulation is the adoption of Choice Based Credit System (CBCS). The CBCS guidelines provide competency-based framework that classifies qualifications based on levels of knowledge, skills and aptitude. The framework gives students the freedom to select programmes from a range of disciplines, which will count towards their overall degree credits. Curriculum will be interdisciplinary, enabling the integration of concepts, theories, techniques and perspectives from two or more disciplines to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline. The completion of a degree will become credit based instead of the current time-based. The model focuses on bridging gap between professional education and employers’ needs, making the student employment ready.
However, with the introduction of Choice based credit system; the number of faculty required will increase as this gives more flexibility to students in choosing their courses. Therefore, the institutions should be fully geared up to meet the requirements of the new system.
The architecture education needs to be synchronized with the industry with active engagement of industry professionals/experts in all the operational areas of institutions. The new regulations make an attempt in that direction which is a welcome move. Apart from these regulations there is also need for regular re-evaluation of the curricula, pedagogy, assessment modules, student learning etc. with the evolving needs of the economy is also necessary to stay relevant. Students are also much needed to be encouraged to take up entrepreneurship by focusing on developing entrepreneurial skills among them and by supporting them through funding or otherwise during ideation, planning and implementation phases. Further, extensive use of a blended learning model needs to be promoted, wherein teaching at Indian institutions can be offered in combination with those provided by the top global universities. Lectures delivered by local faculty can be supplemented by pre-recorded lectures given by best-in-class faculty from the top institutions. Collaboration with foreign institutions for faculty exchange should also be promoted.