OUTSIDE THE LAW
Careers 360|February 2021
India’s premier law schools, the National Law Universities, are discussing ways to implement the new National Education Policy. They will need more of everything – funds, infrastructure, teachers.
Abhay Anand

Even before the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 insisted on all institutions becoming multidisciplinary universities, the National Law Universities (NLUs) had begun moving beyond law. With departments on social sciences and humanities and offering programmes in management and public policy, the NLUs’ leaders insist they are already multidisciplinary institutions.

However, set up under state law and in many cases, funded by the states, for an NLU to become a “multidisciplinary university” in the pattern envisioned in the NEP 2020 will be a challenge. At present, there are 22 NLUs with around 2,538 undergraduate seats and 724 postgraduate seats. Some of them have already begun discussing ways in which they can meet the NEP’s requirements.

NEP proposals and NLUs

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 cleared by the Union Cabinet last year makes way for restructuring the Indian higher education system. The NEP 2020 envisions one large multidisciplinary higher educational institution in or near every district by 2030. One of the key reforms it proposes is the phased conversion of “single-stream” institutions – ones that teach or focus on just one discipline – with small student bodies into large, multidisciplinary institutions or “clusters”. It also suggests restructuring the undergraduate degree into one with multiple exit and entry options. Students can leave with different levels of qualifications – certificates or degrees. While focusing on law, the NLUs have been shifting away from their “single-stream” identity for several years.

The national law universities were created on the same lines as the premier management and engineering institutes, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). As standalone institutions, they were to be the beacons of excellence in legal education. However, the legal and policy framework on which these stand is radically different from that of the IITs and IIMs and it also complicates the process of implementing major structural reforms.

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