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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 60-63

National Education Policy 2020 compliant multidisciplinary education and research universities for dental education in India - A road map

1 Independent Research Consultant, Pune, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Prosthodontics, Dental Education Unit, Indira Gandhi Institute of Dental Sciences; Centre for Health Professions Education, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Puducherry, India

Date of Submission11-Dec-2021
Date of Decision11-Feb-2022
Date of Acceptance26-Feb-2022
Date of Web Publication28-Apr-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Pradnya V Kakodkar
Independent Research Consultant, Pune - 411 057, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JME.JME_107_21

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How to cite this article:
Kakodkar PV, Manivasakan S. National Education Policy 2020 compliant multidisciplinary education and research universities for dental education in India - A road map. J Med Evid 2022;3:60-3

How to cite this URL:
Kakodkar PV, Manivasakan S. National Education Policy 2020 compliant multidisciplinary education and research universities for dental education in India - A road map. J Med Evid [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Jun 7];3:60-3. Available from: http://www.journaljme.org/text.asp?2022/3/1/60/344280

  Introduction Top

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is the first education policy of the 21st century. It has been revised after 34 years to keep pace with the fourth industrial revolution to revamp, re-energise, and readjust the current educational reforms. Presently about 50,000 universities are offering single courses or disciplinary expertise. NEP 2020 considers the fragmented higher education system as one of the critical problems in the existing education system in India.[1] Unlike the historical Indians who were multitalented in several skills, India's current higher education system produces graduates with very narrow discipline and early specialisation.[1] NEP 2020 proposes moving away from proficiency in a single subject to Multidisciplinary Education and Research University (MERU) such that the individuals can learn comprehensively. MERU will encompass science, social science, arts, humanitarian, languages, liberal arts (soft skills, math, vocational courses, professional skills), etc. NEP 2020 sets a deadline of 2040 for the higher education institutions (HEIs) to transform themselves into multidisciplinary institutions.[1]

This article presents a roadmap for the university to become MERU compliant as per NEP 2020 for dental education in India.

  Transformational Plan for the University Top

There are no specific regulatory guidelines offered for dental education in NEP 2020. However, the road map presented here is the opinion of the authors based on the general transformational plan of NEP 2020. Here, the road map [Figure 1] discussed is under the following headings: curriculum, pedagogy, examination, academic bank of credit (ABC), student wellness, internship and internationalisation of students.
Figure 1: Roadmap for Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities

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NEP 2020 proposes that the curriculum must be holistic, multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary, flexible and innovative; curriculum shall include credit-based courses and projects in the areas of community engagement and service, environmental education, global citizenship education (GCE) and value-based education; and the university will give the autonomy to the dental institution and faculty to innovate the curriculum.[1]

India has around 315 dental colleges[2] that are either standalone institutions affiliated to the government or affiliated to deemed to be university or state private universities. Whatever the mode of functioning, a drastic change is expected in dental education concerning the NEP 2020 and the outcome-based education to enhance the employment opportunities for the future generation. Regarding dentistry, the need for the students to have a holistic knowledge on all the domains, the existing main dental subjects must be supplemented with topics as proposed by NEP 2020 through Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS). In 2015, the University Grants Commission introduced CBCS for higher education.[3] To design a holistic and flexible undergraduate dental curriculum, all the subject content should be classified into must-know, desirable to know and nice to know areas. All the must-know areas would constitute the core courses and the desirable and nice to know areas and the additional NEP 2020 proposed topics (community engagement and service, GCE and environmental education) would constitute an elective courses in each academic year. Further, every core dental subject can horizontally integrate value-based education. For example topics such as human values, ethics and bioethics[4] can be horizontally integrated while you teach the students' case history taking, clinical procedure or as applicable during the theory class. The interdisciplinary component can be integrated into dental sciences through research by adding Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy). In this way, the dental curriculum will satisfy the requirements of the credit system, academic flexibility and the multidisciplinary approach emphasized by the NEP 2020.


NEP 2020 proposes that there is increased emphasis on communication, discussion, debate, research and opportunities for cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary thinking; learning to take place through creativity, innovation, critical thinking and higher-order thinking, problem-solving activity, and completing the assignment in teams (teamwork); and open distance learning and online courses are recommended for HEI.[1]

An appropriate curriculum delivered with an engaging pedagogy can achieve quality learning. These proposed pedagogical approaches are in pace with the education 4.0 principles (learning anywhere and anytime, personalised learning, and student-centric learning)[5] and follow the 4C's of 21st-century learning (viz., communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity). NEP 2020 focuses on experiential learning, which can be accomplished by start-up innovation and incubation centres, technology development centres; centres in frontier areas of research; greater industry-academic linkages and interdisciplinary research. In the present scenario, we can practice the hybrid/hyflex modes of learning.[6] Digital advancement will support online courses and open and distance learning, which will also assist the possibilities of lifelong learning reflected in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)[7] target 4.7. The regulatory bodies shall make provision for the clinicians and external resource persons of different streams to be part of the academic community of each institution. This would facilitate the multidisciplinary approach and would help the students to get greater insights in different areas. The students could be allowed within the curricular time to pursue an open elective (research on Ayurved products, entrepreneurship training, microbiology assessment, sociology, soft skill training etc.) at any accredited external institution, clinic, laboratory or company for a specified period, as per their interest. This would help in a greater way for honing their skills and enhance employment opportunities.


NEP 2020 proposes that HEIs shall move away from high-stakes examinations towards more continuous and comprehensive evaluation; HEIs shall move to a criterion-based grading system that assesses student achievement based on the learning goals for each program and continuous formative assessment to be used.[1]

The formative examination pattern must replace the most conventional summative examination (traditional annual examination pattern) by adopting a criterion-based grading system. Instead of a rigid boundary, there will be multiple entries and exits. Every student need not compulsorily attend the exams on a fixed schedule. They can give the exam at their own pace, and the high performers can give it earlier and move on to the following credit course. The poor performer can take a little longer time, and once they are ready, they can face the examination. This pattern could be the basis of fast track mode/gifted student support. It would be possible by adapting to the CBCS pattern to learn at their own pace and earn credits accordingly.[8],[9] Adopting Work Place Based Assessment methods[10] would be the best choice for the continuous assessment process. Objective Structured Practical Examination, Objective Structured Clinical Examination, Structured Oral Examination, Direct Observation of Procedural Skills, Mini Clinical examination could be easily implemented in dentistry to make the assessment criterion-based.[11],[12],[13],[14],[15]

Academic bank of credit

NEP 2020 proposes an ABC be established, which would digitally store the academic credits earned from various recognised HEIs so that the degrees from an HEI can be awarded taking into account credits earned.[1]

The ABC proposed by the NEP 2020 is where HEIs will digitally deposit credits earned by students for courses they studied and keep an account of the multidisciplinary courses or holistic education. It is possible to have a CBCS dental curriculum[8],[9] complimented by the ABC. Over a period of time, CBCS would become the norm for all programmes irrespective of the discipline. Furthermore, NEP 2020 stresses lifelong learning for the students and the faculty alike. Hence, ABC will also keep an account of this learning credit. This bank will have an individual profile, and one can keep updating it depending on the new courses that the individual learns. It would just be like an ORCID number or the SCOPUS id, which details the publications. If any learner acquires a new skill such as certificate, short course badge, micro-masters etc., it will reflect in the ABC ledger. The unique ABC id of the learner would detail the new accolades achieved in the learning.

Student wellness

NEP 2020 proposes vibrant campus life, participation in sports and other activities, a counselling system, a hostel and a medical facility for the students.[1]

Students are the prime stakeholders in the education system. There should be a provision for student wellness. Probably, it is the first time that some students have come alone out of their home. Hence, to make them feel like a home away from home, there should be a provision as proposed by NEP 2020. In fact, some of these things are already existing, namely student council, dedicated student counsellor, the constitution of active mentor-mentee system, student support cells and committees to address their needs, grievances and their well-being. This is a positive point for the institutions to just strengthen the existing student support systems and make them more active.


NEP 2020 proposes the inclusion of research and internships in the undergraduate curriculum.[1]

One year of a rotating internship is already included in the dental curriculum.[16] It is an essential milestone in the completion of the BDS degree. Usually, the dental intern has rotating postings in different specialty departments, and they learn to treat the patient like a piecemeal and not holistically. Acquiring training for comprehensive patient treatment during internship is possible, and provision must be made. Typically, there is a wide disparity between what is taught in college versus the prevailing clinical reality outside the community. Hence, during the internship, the teaching and learning should be such that the candidate is industry-ready (means ready to be a dentist and start working in the outside world). The skills needed for the outside world should be taught. The internship is the best time to learn all allied knowledge to become a well-rounded dentist, namely short clinical course in denture making, implants, removable orthodontic appliances, endodontics, post and core, smile designing, advanced radiography, tobacco counselling, overall grooming as a clinical dentist, clinical practitioner competent to work at the PHC, practice management etc. Interested students can also specialise in research by taking up small projects, assisting in post-graduate and Ph.D. thesis, or getting involved in large funded projects. Some students aspire to continue their further studies abroad, and this research experience will help them in their admission process.

In addition, emphasis should be given to the training of the students in interprofessional teams, and addressing the needs of special populations such as geriatrics,[17] differently-abled, mentally challenged, chronic systemic disorders, palliative care as they are the fundamental needs for society. Such training would enhance the employability of the graduates as well. The other kinds of training they can take during the internship are community service and engagement (during the public health dentistry posting), languages (German, French, Portuguese etc.), competitive exams, soft skills, family dentist training and Bioethics.

Internationalisation of students

NEP 2020 proposes to promote India as a global study destination; initiatives for having more significant numbers of international students studying in India and provide greater mobility to students in India who may wish to visit, study at, transfer credits to or carry out research at institutions abroad.[1]

Certain countries have excellent infrastructure, advanced technology, and the latest learning material. Universities need to collaborate with such countries to provide the opportunity of the exchange programme for the student and faculty. Although international students are admitted in India, the student exchange programme should be facilitated and strengthened. Provision to be made for an international student officer who will support in the admission, transfer process etc. ABC will be of great use here and can help smooth transactions of the credit points earned at foreign universities and transfer of credit points for admission. As the world is becoming increasingly interconnected, universities have to make provision of Global Citizenship Education[18] which will empower learners to become aware of and understand global issues and become active promoters of more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable societies.

  Conclusion Top

The NEP 2020 is the roadmap for future higher education. The roadmap presented here is the authors' views based on their dentistry experience and additional expertise in education. Prolonged debate, discussion, extensive consultation and acquisition of relevant knowledge will be needed to bring about the change in the existing academic reforms. NEP 2020 envisages that the students graduate as well-rounded dentists' from the MERUs. The future will see a shift from disciplinary expertise to multidisciplinary skills.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

National Education Policy 2020. Ministry of Human Resource Development. Government of India. Available from: https://www.education.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/NEP_Final_English_0.pdf. [Last accessed on 2021 Dec 09].  Back to cited text no. 1
Dental Council of India. Available from: https://dciindia.gov.in/CollegeSearch.aspx?ColName=&CourseId=1&SplId=0&StateId=&Hospital=&Type=0&Status=--Select--. [Last accessed on 2021 Dec 09].  Back to cited text no. 2
Minimum Course Curriculum for Undergraduate Courses under Choice Based Credit System. Available from: https://ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/8023719_Guidelines-for-CBCS.pdf. [Last accessed on 2021 Dec 08].  Back to cited text no. 3
D'Souza RF, Mathew M, D'Souza DSJ, Palatty P. Novel horizontal and vertical integrated bioethics curriculum for medical courses. Med Teach 2018;40:573-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
Goel P, Kumar P, Johri P, Srivastava SK, Suhaga S. A comparative study of industry 4.0 with education 4.0. Available from: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3553215 [doi: 10.2139/ ssrn. 3553215]. [Last accessed on 2022 Mar 27].  Back to cited text no. 5
Hybrid and Hyflex Teaching and Learning. Available from: https://ctl.columbia.edu/resources-and-technology/teaching-with-technology/teaching-online/hyflex/#strategies. [Last accessed on 2021 Nov 11].  Back to cited text no. 6
Sustainable Development. Available from: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal4. [Last accessed on 2021 Dec 09].  Back to cited text no. 7
Manivasakan S, Sethuraman KR, Narayan KA. The proposal of a BDS syllabus framework to suit Choice Based Credit System (CBCS). J Clin Diagn Res 2016;10:C01-5.  Back to cited text no. 8
Shivasakthy M, Sethuraman KR, Adkoli BV. Acceptability and feasibility of choice based credit system in BDS syllabus. Int J Innov Educ Res 2016;4:73-80.  Back to cited text no. 9
Uma E. Workplace-based assessment: A valuable tool in undergraduate dental education. Int J Appl Basic Med Res 2020;10:223-5.  Back to cited text no. 10
Ramula M, Arivazagan N. Mini-Clinical Examination (mini-CEX) as a tool for formative assessment for surgical interns. Int J Surg Sci 2018;2:19-22.  Back to cited text no. 11
Shahzad A, Saeed MH, Paiker S. Dental students' concerns regarding OSPE and OSCE: A qualitative feedback for process improvement. BDJ Open 2017;3:17009.  Back to cited text no. 12
Shivasakthy M, Sethuraman KR, Santha Devy A, Saravanakumar R. Dental Education Upgrade – Mapping of the new path in current Indian context. Ann SBV 2017;6:10-3.  Back to cited text no. 13
Riaz F, Yasmin S, Yasmin R. Introducing regular formative assessment to enhance learning among dental students at Islamic International Dental College. J Pak Med Assoc 2015;65:1277-82.  Back to cited text no. 14
Shivasakthy M, Sethuraman KR, Usha C. Quality improvement and future directions of dental education. J Sci Dent 2016;6;1-5.  Back to cited text no. 15
Dental Council of India. Available from: https://dciindia.gov.in/Rule_Regulation/Revised_BDS_Course_Regulation_2007.pdf. [Last accessed on 2021 Dec 09].  Back to cited text no. 16
Shigli K, Nayak SS, Sharma S, Nayak V, Nayak PP, Kulkarni P, et al. Interprofessional education – A case for Gerodontology training. Gerontol Geriatr Educ 2021;42:151-65.  Back to cited text no. 17
Global Citizenship Education. Available from: https://mgiep.unesco.org/global-citizenship#:~:text=February%2C%202020%20%7C%20India%20Today%3A, transform%20the%20way%20we%20teach. [Last accessed on 2021 Dec 11].  Back to cited text no. 18


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