UPSC MAINS 2019 : Undergraduate ‘LOCF’ curriculum

Undergraduate ‘LOCF’ curriculum


Topic : Undergraduate ‘LOCF’ curriculum

Topic in Syllabus : General Studies 1: Indian Society



Undergraduate ‘LOCF’ curriculum

Eighteen-year-olds entering college in a couple of months from now will follow a new curriculum for undergraduate courses that the University Grants Commission (UGC) believes will improve, among other things, their employability.


More about on news:

  • The new curriculum will be modelled on the UGC’s ‘Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework’,
  • On August 7, 2018, UGC issued a public notice followed by a direction to all central institutions, to form subject-specific committees for the implementation of the Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework.
  • The LOCF approach “makes the student an active learner; the teacher a good facilitator and together they lay the foundation for lifelong learning”.
  • The idea behind LOCF is to decide the desired outcome within the framework of the current Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and then design the curriculum to obtain these outcomes.
  • The outcomes will be determined in terms of skills, knowledge, understanding, employability, graduate attributes, attitudes, values, etc., gained by students upon the completion of the course.


Learning outcomes-based approach to curriculum planning and development:

  • The fundamental premise underlying the learning outcomes-based approach to curriculum planning and development is that higher education qualifications such as a Bachelor’s Degree programmes are awarded on the basis of demonstrated achievement of outcomes and academic standards expected of graduates of a programme of study.
  • Learning outcomes specify what graduates completing a particular programme of study are expected to know, understand and be able to do at the end of their programme of study.
  • The expected learning outcomes are used as reference points that would help formulate graduate attributes, qualification descriptors, programme learning outcomes and course learning outcomes which in turn will help in curriculum planning and development, and in the design, delivery and review of academic programmes.
  • They provide general guidance for articulating the essential learnings associated with programmes of study and courses with in a programme.


Objectives of the learning outcomes-based curriculum framework:

  • Help formulate graduate attributes, qualification descriptors, programme learning outcomes and course learning outcomes that are expected to be demonstrated by the holder of a qualification;
  • Enable prospective students, parents, employers and others to understand the nature and level of learning outcomes (knowledge, skills, attitudes and values)
  • Maintain national standards and international comparability of learning outcomes and academic standards to ensure global competitiveness, and to facilitate student/graduate mobility
  • Provide higher education institutions an important point of reference for designing teaching-learning strategies, assessing student learning levels, and periodic review of programmes and academic standards.


Key outcomes underpinning curriculum planning and development:

Graduate attributes

The graduate attributes reflect bothdisciplinary knowledge and understanding, generic skills, including global competencies,that all students in different academic fields of study should acquire/attain and demonstrate. Some of the characteristic attributes that a graduate should demonstrate areas follows:

  • Disciplinary knowledge:Capable of demonstratingcomprehensive knowledge and understanding of one or more disciplines that form a part of an undergraduate programme of study.
  • Communication Skills:Ability to express thoughts and ideas effectively in writing and orally; Communicate with others using appropriate media; confidently share one‟s views and express herself/himself;
  • Critical thinking:Capability to apply analytic thought to a body of knowledge; analyse and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims, beliefson the basis of empirical evidence; identify relevant assumptions or implications;
  • Problem solving:Capacity to extrapolate from what one has learned and apply their competencies to solve different kinds of non-familiar problems, rather than replicate curriculum content knowledge; and apply one‟s learning to real life situations
  • Analytical reasoning:Ability to evaluate the reliability and relevance of evidence; identify logical flaws and holes in the arguments of others; analyse and synthesise data from a variety of sources;
  • Research-related skills: A sense of inquiry and capability for asking relevant/appropriate questions, problematizing, synthesizing and articulating; Ability to recognize cause-and-effect relationships
  • Cooperation/Team work: Ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams facilitate cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group, and act together as a group or a team in the interests of a common cause and work efficiently as a member of a team.
  • Scientific reasoning: Ability to analyses, interpret and draw conclusions from quantitative/qualitative data; and critically evaluate ideas, evidence and experiences from an open-minded and reasoned perspective.
  • Reflective thinking: Critical sensibility to lived experiences, with self-awareness and reflexivity of both self and society.
  • Information/digital literacy: Capabilitytouse ICT in a variety of learning situations, demonstrate ability to access, evaluate, and use a variety of relevant information sources; and use appropriate software for analysis of data.
  • Self-directed learning: Ability to work independently, identify appropriate resources required for a project, and manage a project through to completion.
  • Multicultural competence: Possess knowledge of the values and beliefs of multiple cultures and a global perspective;
  • Leadership readiness/qualities: Capability for mapping out the tasks of a team or an organization, and setting direction, formulating an inspiring vision, building a team who can help achieve the vision.


Why are some teachers opposed to this idea?

  • Teachers at Delhi University (DU) are agitated about the frequent changes in the undergraduate curriculum.
  • The coming change will be the fifth in the last nine years at the university.
  • In 2010, the undergraduate programme switched from the traditional annual mode to the semester mode.
  • In 2013, the semester mode was changed to the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP), only for FYUP to switch back to semester mode the following year. And in the year after that (2015), the CBCS kicked in.
  • Each of these “reforms” was announced without warning, and implemented the very next year.
  • Each change was introduced with the objective of improving the quality of education and scaling up DU’s world ranking, but the outcome, critics say, has been the opposite.
  • Each change has disrupted the functioning of the system, and caused confusion and trauma among students.


Major problems with LOCF circular:

  • According to critics, the committees formed to recommend changes in the 2019-20 curriculum (in line with LOCF) have major problems.
  • First, the CBCS pattern of the undergraduate programme itself is faulty and the committees are supposed to bring changes in the curriculum within this faulty framework.
  • Second, the subject-specific committees formed by DU were given only three months to submit their reports, and all stakeholders were not consulted.
  • Third, LOCF is to be implemented immediately, and there is inadequate time for preparation.
  • Finally, while all departments have been asked to assign this work to their three “best teachers”, no criteria were decided to assess and rank teachers.


Main features of the CBCS pattern of education:

  • UGC wants to replace the “marks or percentage based evaluation system, which obstructs the flexibility for the students to study the subjects/courses of their choice and their mobility to different institutions”.
  • CBCS, which “not only offers opportunities and avenues to learn core subjects but also exploring additional avenues of learning beyond the core subjects for holistic development of an individual”.
  • CBCS, according to UGC, provides “a ‘cafeteria’ type approach in which the students can take courses of their choice, learn at their own pace, undergo additional courses and acquire more than the required credits and adopt an interdisciplinary approach to learning”.
  • The Generic Elective (GE) course has to be compulsorily taken from an unrelated discipline/subject.
  • All Honours students must choose one Generic paper from options offered by disciplines other than their own in semesters 1-4.
  • Students of non-Honours courses must choose one generic paper from a discipline other than their own in the last two semesters.


Criticism of the CBCS:

  • Critics point to three major problems:
    • a repetition of papers,
    • highly heterogeneous classes,
    • The creation of situations in which students don’t acquire much knowledge about a subject.
  • Their choice doesn’t add to their knowledge, and they do so mainly to lessen their burden.
  • When students of different disciplines opt for a GE of a particular discipline, it creates a class of students who are very different from each other in attitude, knowledge, aptitude, and exposure. Teaching a Commerce Generic to a student of Mathematics is different from teaching it to a student of English.
  • The lack of synchronization in interdisciplinary syllabus formulation has made teaching-learning more difficult.
  • Students who choose to not take Economics as their Generic Elective paper often face problems in semester 4, when they have to study Business Mathematics as a compulsory Core paper, which requires a basic knowledge of Economics.


Sample Question:

“Critically examine how LOCF will invite greater interference from governments that will be tempted to dictate acceptable ‘outcomes’ for universities”


“Without a re-look at the CBCS framework, changes in the curriculum through LOCF will end up being another futile exercise” comment.



Undergraduate ‘LOCF’ curriculum info graphics