The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Tuesday announced that students will now be able to pursue two full-time academic programmes in physical mode. The commission has put together a set of guidelines regarding the same, which are now available on the official website i.e ugc.ac.in. Earlier, the UGC regulations did not allow students to pursue two full-time programmes and they could only pursue one full-time degree along with online/short-term/diploma courses.
The guidelines will apply to all the programmes available across the country. Students can either choose a combination of a diploma programme and an undergraduate (UG) degree, two master’s programmes, or two bachelor’s programmes. If a student is eligible to pursue a postgraduate (UG) degree and also wants to enrol in a bachelor’s degree in a different domain, he/she will be able to pursue a UG and PG degree simultaneously. The class timing for both the programmes must not clash.
“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,” UGC chairman, Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar said.
Following the new guidelines, students will be able to pursue two degree programmes across domains such as sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, and a wide variety of disciplines. Adopting these guidelines is optional for universities and can be implemented only after the approval of the universities’ statutory bodies. The eligibility criteria for each of the programmes will remain unchanged and admissions will be conducted based on the existing UGC, university norms.
The rationale behind the decision to allow students to pursue two academic degrees simultaneously is to help them gain diverse skills, according to the UGC. It is also aimed at translating the NEP’s vision of breaking down interdisciplinary separations. It remains to be seen how the proposal is received by the academia and student community.
“A student can pursue two full-time academic programmes in the physical mode provided that in such cases, class timings for one programme do not overlap with the class timings of the other programme. Universities will have the flexibility to decide if they want to offer such a scheme of programmes or not. The guidelines will only be applicable to lecture-based courses, including undergraduate, postgraduate, and diploma programmes. MPhil and PhD programmes will not fall under the same scheme,” Kumar added.
The move allows a student to not just enrol in two physical programmes simultaneously, but also pursue two academic programmes, one in full-time physical mode, and another in open and distance learning mode. They can also join a programme in a physical mode in a university, along with another programme in an online mode. The third choice for students is that they can pursue two online degrees simultaneously.
Since all academic programmes have minimum attendance requirements for students to be able to take the exams, universities will have to devise the attendance criteria for these courses. “UGC does not mandate any attendance requirements and these are the policies of the universities,” Kumar added.
“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 Kumar, adding that the UGC will release modified regulations for online education in a couple of weeks, after which many top-quality institutes in India will start offering online degrees.