In a decision which received its go-ahead in 2020 and according to guidelines released on 13th April 2022, the UGC now allows students to pursue two academic degrees simultaneously. Read to find out more.
The University Grants Commission has given a ruling under which students are now allowed to pursue two academic degrees simultaneously. The guidelines under this ruling were finalised and formalised on Tuesday, 13th April 2022, making the decision official.
The UGC has been planning for such a provision for a long time, even forming a commission for the same in 2012, but this decision finally received the go-ahead in 2020.
These guidelines apply to all programmes available to students across India, enabling them to either choose a combination of a diploma programme and an undergraduate degree, two master’s programmes, or two bachelor’s programmes. It even allows the students to pursue a postgraduate degree along with a bachelor’s degree, provided the student is eligible for the same.
MPhil and PhD courses do not fall under these guidelines.
With the rapid increase in demand for high-quality higher education and the limitation of only enrolling about 3 per cent of students on physical campuses, there have been many developments in the fields of open and distance learning, as well as online education. Many universities are now offering both offline and online programmes,” said M. Jagadesh Kumar, UGC Chairman and former JNU Vice-Chancellor.
Furthermore, the guidelines explain the intricacies of the dual-degree decision:
- A student can pursue two full academic programs simultaneously in physical mode if class timings for one programme do not overlap with class timings for another programme.
- One programme can be pursued in physical mode and another in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) /Online mode; or up to two ODL/Online programmes simultaneously.
- Degree or diploma programmes under ODL shall be pursued with only such Higher Education Institutions that are recognized by UGC or the Indian government.
- These simultaneous full-time degrees or diploma programmes shall be guided by UGC or the respective statutory councils, whenever necessary.
- No retrospective benefits can be claimed by students who have already pursued two full-time degrees or programmes simultaneously, prior to the release of guidelines.
- Universities are also provided the flexibility of choice in terms of deciding whether to offer such a provision to their students or not.
This decision comes as a part of the New Education Policy (NEP) vision, being based on the rationale that allowing students to pursue two academic degrees simultaneously will help them in gaining a diverse skillset and help in an aggravated development by allowing the students to pursue interdisciplinary courses.
A student will be able to pursue a B.Com. and a mathematics degree together if the student wishes to, and if he or she is eligible to do so. The idea is to provide as much flexibility to students as possible…. In the last commission meeting held on March 31, it was decided to issue guidelines which will enable students to pursue two academic programmes simultaneously because the NEP 2020 emphasises the need to facilitate multiple pathways to learning involving both formal and non-formal education forms, in the sense that a combination of the physical model, as well as the online form, should be used to provide more freedom to the students to acquire multiple skills,” he continued.
However, some academicians believe that this objective could have been pursued and achieved without the setting up of such new guidelines. According to S Vaidhyasubramaniam, Vice-Chancellor, SASTRA-deemed university,
Multiple skill set should be a subset of a single degree and cannot traverse between two degrees. This decision needs a review considering that there are existing options to achieve the desired objective without a need for this new policy…”
Many of the decisions and nitty-gritties regarding this policy have been left to the discretion of the universities and their respective statutory bodies, including the issues of attendance requirements and examination overlaps.
The students would be required to complete the credit requirement for both the degrees being pursued, as specified by the university guidelines.
There are also no set criteria guiding the time frame according to which the second degree must be enrolled in. This allows students to start their second degree not just in their first year of the first degree, but also in the subsequent years.
Admission criteria and requirements have also been largely left to the universities and the programmes being pursued, while significantly remaining unchanged.
“The process and eligibility for admission and exams will be decided by the respective institutions. If a university requires a student to sit for CUET (common university entrance test), they will have to do that, if another institution he or she is looking at does not have such a test then they will have to follow that particular institution’s admission process,” UGC Chairman explained.
While many believe that there might be a lot of positive aspects to such a dual degree programme, such as the pursuance of degree programmes that have been traditionally-shunned as well as a breakdown of a historically-ingrained subject hierarchy, many academicians have voiced their concerns against this decision, arguing that this would allow for a “dilution” in education.
Abha Dev Habib, an associate professor at Delhi University’s (DU) Miranda House College, said,
The UGC, by issuing any such guidelines, will be diluting its full-time degrees and their worth. For holistic growth, classroom time has to be balanced with time for self-study, group study, extra-curricular activities, summer projects etc. Education is a social activity and students learn through interactions. There has to be time built in for that. It is one thing to allow students to earn degrees with extra credits but to allow students to pursue two “full-time” degrees will be disastrous.”
Rajesh Jha, another DU professor, lamented the fact that the UGC is assuming the student is “superhuman”. He said,
By offering double degree programmes, you are diluting honours courses. The basic philosophy of honours courses is to provide comprehensive, intensive and advanced knowledge to students and even under honours courses, students can opt for discipline centric courses… If we talk about interdisciplinarity, then there are BSC and BA programmes. By doing this, you are raising questions on your programmes. This will lead to utter chaos in the education system.”
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