What is Choice Based Credit System?
University Grants Commission has come up with the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) programme in which the students have a choice to choose from the prescribed courses, which are referred as core, elective or minor or soft skill courses and they can learn at their own pace and the entire assessment is graded-based on a credit system. The basic idea is to look into the needs of the students so as to keep up-to-date with development of higher education in India and abroad. CBCS aims to redefine the curriculum keeping pace with the liberalisation and globalisation in education. CBCS allows students an easy mode of mobility to various educational institutions spread across the world along with the facility of transfer of credits earned by students.
Features of CBCS
• This is a uniform CBCS for all central and state and other recognised universities.
• There are three main courses: Core, Elective and Foundation.
• There are also non-credit courses available which will be assessed as ‘Satisfactory’ or “Unsatisfactory’. This is not included in the computation of SGPA/CGPA.
• All the three main courses will be evaluated and accessed to provide for an effective and balanced result.
How does it work?
It has the following basic elements:
• Semesters: The assessment is done semester wise. A student progresses on the basis of the courses taken rather than time like three years for science, arts, commerce or four years for engineering etc. Each semester will have 15–18 weeks of academic work which is equal to 90 teaching days. There is flexibility in creating the curriculum and assigning credits based on the course content and hours of teaching.
• Credit system: Each course is assigned a certain credit. When the student passes that course, he earns the credits which are based on that course. If a student passes a single course in a semester, he does not have to repeat that course later. The students can earn credits according to his pace.
• Credit transfer: If for some reasons, he cannot cope with the study load or if he falls sick, he has the freedom to study fewer courses and earn fewer credits and he can compensate this in the next semester.
• Comprehensive continuous assessment: There is a continuous evaluation of the student not only by the teachers but also by the student himself.
• Grading: UGC has introduced a 10-point grading system as follows:
o O (Outstanding): 10
o A+ (Excellent): 9
o A (Very Good): 8
o B+ (Good): 7
o B (Above Average): 6
o C (Average): 5
o P (Pass): 4
o F (Fail): 0
o Ab (Absent): 0
How is the credit counted?
One credit per semester is equal to one hour of teaching, which includes both lecture (L) or tutorial (T) or two hours of practical work/field work (P) per week. A study course can have only L component or only T or P component or combination of any two or all the three components. The total credits earned by a student for each semester is L+T+P.
In compliance with the global grading system
All the major higher education institutions across the world are implementing a system of credits. For instance, we have the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) in Europe’s universities, the ‘National Qualifications Framework’ in Australia. There is the Pan-Canadian Protocol on the Transferability of University Credits. In the UK, we have the Credit Accumulation and Transfer System (CATS). Even the systems operating in the US, Japan, etc. are based on credit system.
Advantages of Choice Based Credit System
• The CBCS offers a ‘cafeteria’ approach in which the students can choose courses of their own choice.
• The credit system allows a student to study what he prefers in his own sequence as per his interests.
• They can learn at their own pace.
• They can opt for additional courses and can achieve more than the required credits.
• They can also opt for an interdisciplinary approach to learning.
• Inter college/university migration within the country and outside becomes easy with the transfer of Credits. This means that it will be easier for foreign universities to come and offer courses in India.
• Can opt for one part of the course in one institute and the other part in another institute. This will help in making a clear choice between good and bad colleges/ institutes.
• The students have more scope to enhance their skills and more scope of taking up projects and assignments, vocational training, including entrepreneurship.
• The system improves the job opportunities of students.
• The system will help in enabling potential employers assess the performance of students on a scientific scale.
Disadvantages of CBCS
• Not very easy to estimate the exact marks.
• Teachers’ workload may fluctuate.
• Needs proper and good infrastructure for a universal spread of education.
Conclusion: It is too early to say whether CBCS will be successful or not. The UGC has always initiated measures to bring efficiency and excellence in the Higher Education System of India. The basic motive is to expand academic quality in all aspects, right from the curriculum to the learning-teaching process to examination and evaluation systems. However, so far multiple methods are followed by different universities across the country towards examination, evaluation and grading system. Considering this diversity, the implementation of the choice based credit system seems to be a good system in assessing the overall performance of a student in a universal way of a single grading system.