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.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
THE LLM PROBLEM
In January, the Bar Council of India issued a notification putting an end to the one-year LLM programme, leaving students and teachers perplexed.
‘WE MIGHT TAKE A CLUSTER UNIVERSITY APPROACH'
The National Law School of India University (NLSIU) Bengaluru doesn’t need a change in law or court cases to become more diverse, said Vice Chancellor, Sudhir Krishnaswamy. He spoke to Careers360 about how NLSIU, caught in a court case related to reservation of 25% seats for Karnataka students, is working on a system to make it more diverse; expanding to accommodate more students and courses; exploring collaborations with other state universities; and planning to raise funds from alumni.
NOT CROSSING THE BAR
There are dozens of career avenues beyond litigation that do not require a law graduate to qualify the bar exam. Many do not qualify the exam and many choose not to write it.
THE DOMICILE DEBATE
Over the past few years, most states have introduced domicile quotas of varying sizes in NLUs. Students, alumni and former administrators continue to oppose this policy.
SISTERHOOD OF LAWYERS
A forum for women lawyers started by a Symbiosis Law School graduate is helping students and graduates find their feet in the profession.
OUTSIDE THE LAW
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.
LAW OF ANOTHER LAND
The largest number of foreign universities whose law degrees the Bar Council of India recognises is in the United Kingdom. What can you do with a foreign degree in law?
GAINING A PRACTICAL APPROACH
Online courses train lawyers in newer branches of law, help students gain practical experience and keep other professionals updated on the regulations that govern their sectors.
COVERING NEW TERRAIN
Law schools offer a range of short-term diploma courses for both lawyers, other working professionals and students. Several cover emerging areas of concern such as bioterrorism, GIS and remote-sensing.
Interns Are Often Considered ‘Free Labour'
A student who interned with a law-firm during the pandemic writes about working long hours without a stipend and what they learned from mistakes.