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National Digital University: Exploring New Avenues in Higher Education

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Jagpreet

18 January, 2023

National Digital University: Exploring New Avenues in Higher Education

The top trends for the current year include gamification, ed-tech expansion, upskilling, and the emergence of metaverse education models. However, as millennials and young professionals look for ways to improve their competencies and learn in a more efficient, effective, and time-saving manner, “Nano-learning” is expected to steal the show. India is rigorously working to execute the goals set by the National Education Policy 2020. Hence, the government has introduced these reforms. 

So far 2023 is the year of transformation, innovation, and internationalisation for higher education in India. The UGC has recently announced two major breakthroughs. One, the declaration that foreign universities can set up their campuses in India. Second, the establishment of the National Digital University (NDU). 

What is National Digital University and How Will it Operate? 

On January 1, 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an announcement about National Digital University. This will help India to expand its roots and even work towards the internationalisation of higher education by means of digitalisation. Thus, making it an attractive study destination for international students. 

The National Digital University will start working in the academic year 2023-2024. It will operate with its partner universities which can be either private or public universities. It will function on a “hub and spoke model” where the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) portal is “the hub” and the partner universities are “the spoke”. Initially, it will offer only certificate and diploma programs and eventually move on to offering degrees. 

The university will host courses via SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) and for IT and other administrative services, Samarth, the government portal will be in use. 

Credit System & Award of Degree

National Digital University presents to students the chance to earn a degree either from participating higher education institutions or from the National Digital University itself. NDU plans to offer this flexibility through its carefully planned academic & credit system. A student can choose to earn credits from any of the participating institutes. In case a student earns 50% of the credits from any one university and the rest of the credits from any other higher education institute, the student will earn a degree from the respective university.

Let us take an example to understand it better. Let’s say that a student enrols himself for an online course offered by the Delhi University. Now, if the student manages to earn 50% of his/her total credits from Delhi University, then he/she will be awarded a degree by Delhi University.

However, if a student registers at NDU and chooses to earn the requisite credits from different participating universities, then the student will receive the degree from National Digital University. Thus, NDU offers students the freedom to explore and study flexibly.

What are the Benefits of National Digital University? 

The university aims to solve the following problems: 

  1. Private and public universities tend to have a limited number of seats. On the other hand, NDU offers unlimited seats in all the courses
  2. It focuses on skill development 
  3. It gives the flexibility to earn higher education degrees in online mode
  4. It contributes towards the “Digital India” movement
  5. It will increase the overall employability in the country as it will offer many programmes in the emerging areas
  6. It aims to increase the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER), with an aim to achieve 50% GER by 2030

Similarities & Differences Between NDU and Online Learning Platforms 

National Digital University is no less than online learning platforms like Udemy, SkillShare, and Coursera. The students can browse through a variety of programmes provided in a single discipline and select the one that best suits their educational needs. These platforms and the university only differ in that the latter grants degrees, diplomas, and certificates from recognised Indian universities while the former simply offers e-certifications. 

Here is a Bird’s-Eye-View of the National Digital University 

Talks about NDU already began in October 2022 as per the reports of News18. Universities like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, Delhi University (DU), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) have been shortlisted to partner with NDU and the UGC is actively looking to expand this list. 

With the rise in digitisation, it is expected that this reform will be a big hit. But, there is still a lot to be done before anything can be said for sure. More clear observations can be seen in the coming months when the university will start offering admissions, student feedback, and active operations.


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