March 13, 2024


Will the National Credit Framework help the Indian education sector?

Depending on who you ask, people’s view on the Indian education system ranges from flawed to being in a crisis. Some of the fundamentals of the system, which go back decades, have remained constant, for better or worse. One thing’s for sure, everyone agrees that the system needs to be updated and change with the times.

One interesting proposal was for a unified credit accumulation and transfer system developed by the National Credit Framework (NCrF). The hope is this will give students and institutions the flexibility to adapt, formulate curricula, and choose disciplines based on necessity and interest. A credit system isn’t something synonymous with the Indian education system. So, will this work? Will it be a good thing?


Under the 2020 National Education Policy (NEP), one of the biggest goals was to bring the entire education system, from school to PhD, under one unified credit system. The underlying thesis is to redefine education based on learning outcomes.

Before we go further, what’s a credit system? Essentially, a credit is a unit by which a course is measured. The workload, i.e., how much you need to study, is measured in credit hours. This will vary depending on the course and course activities and is usually decided in advance. For a student to earn the full credit, they need to complete those number of hours.

Back to the NEP, part of this credit system proposal was for an academic bank of credit (ABC) to facilitate the movement of students in and out of programmes. It’s basically a virtual repository to store the credits earned by each student. Think of it like a bank where students’ credits get deposited as they go through a course.

Recently, the CBSE sent a letter to all affiliated institutions to solicit feedback on the proposal to introduce a credit system. Each subject will have a certain number of credits based on their learning times. A full academic year would have 1,200 learning hours, translating to 40 credits. If a student wants to pass, they need to complete these 1,200 hours. The interesting thing here is it includes in-class and non-academic or experiential learning outside the classroom.

The NCrF plays a vital role here. It’s the base on which the government wants to integrate academics with vocational and skill-based education. It’s how students will earn credits from regular academic education and extracurricular activities.

There are two things the government wants to accomplish here. One is bringing school education, higher education, and skills under a single umbrella of assessment system as part of the (NCrF). The other is to transform the Indian education system into something more than just a “robotic rote learning system”. Will the NCrF make these a reality?

VIEW: It can be transformative

Most universities follow a Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS) where students earn credits by completing a particular course. With the NCrF, students can integrate a wide variety of courses and integrate inter-disciplinary and intra-disciplinary education. Transferring between schools and boards can be a cumbersome and tricky process. That can go away with the NCrF since students can do so without needing equivalent certification issued by various education boards.

Credits are often seen as a better way for students to make informed decisions on their educational journeys. It’s all about removing friction if they want to pursue diverse programmes across different institutions. That flexibility facilitates a better, more dynamic, and holistic learning experience. The CBCS underscored the need for this flexibility since it didn’t let students explore a range of learning programmes.

So far, the NCrF has been welcomed by educational institutions with their initial feedback. It’s good for them also. They can design courses that blend experiential learning and be incorporated into the curricula. Broadly, the integration of the NCrF and the ABC allows for seamless multiple entry and exit points for multi-disciplinary education.

COUNTERVIEW: It isn’t airtight

One of the biggest hurdles and unanswered questions is how the NCrF will systematise the different approaches by different regulators and autonomous educational institutions. Standardisation will be a herculean task, and some that already follow credit-based systems, like the CBCS, will have a leg up. Unless all institutions are brought on board with support from the ground up, it could end up messy for all involved.

While the goal is to assimilate different education levels and domains, there are a couple of oversights. It doesn’t account for special education for those with disabilities. The other thing is that while it’s laudable the NCrF facilitates multiple entry and exit points, there’s no information on how this would apply to or help students from socio-economically weaker sections. Historically, they’ve been the ones most likely to drop out.

Flexibility for students is an inherently good thing. However, this also puts pressure on them to make informed choices in line with their career aspirations. There’s also the uncertainty on whether students might return after an extended break. Per the latest information from the UGC, nearly 3.17 crore students have registered for the ABC since its introduction in 2021. That’s arguably not a good track record.

Reference Links:

  • What is a course credit system and how are credits earned, transferred? A beginner’s guide – Careers 360
  • Explainer: How the academic bank of credit will work – Careers 360
  • How National Credit Framework can transform the education system – India Today
  • The National Credit Framework makes education system more flexible – The Indian Express
  • New academic credit system needs all institutions aboard – New Indian Express
  • Decoding the National Credit Framework (NCrF) – Times of India

What is your opinion on this?

a) The National Credit Framework will help the Indian education sector.

b) The National Credit Framework won’t help the Indian education sector.


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