College students will be allowed to take two university courses at the same time as long as both are of the same level of advancement, the University Grants Commission (UGC) announced on Tuesday in a decision that represents a significant reform of the education system. superior.
Once notified, students can take two undergraduate, postgraduate or diploma courses at the same time as long as the courses do not collide or if one or both are taught online. The option will not be available if it is a medical or engineering course.
UGC President, Mr Jagadesh Kumar, said the move is in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which supports multidisciplinary education in all fields including science, social science, arts, humanities and sports. “NEP 2020 recommends providing as much flexibility as possible for students to personalize and adapt their education so that they can receive a multidisciplinary and holistic education in all disciplines. So, if students want to pursue two degrees simultaneously, they will now have an option. It all depends on the choice of the students,” Kumar said.
Kumar said the provision will be applicable to non-technical courses affiliated with UGC.
The UGC plans to implement the reform this year. “These guidelines are effective from the date of notification by UGC. No retrospective benefit can be claimed by students who have already earned two degrees simultaneously prior to notification of these guidelines,” said the draft guidelines, a copy of which was reviewed by HT.
However, experts and academics have raised concerns about the announcement, warning that the provision could reduce the focus of education to the mere pursuit of degrees or dilute the value of the programs themselves.
Abha Dev Habib, Associate Professor of Physics at Miranda House College, University of Delhi (DU), said: “UGC, by issuing such guidelines, will dilute its full-time degrees and their value. For holistic growth, classroom time should be balanced with time for self-study, group study, extracurricular activities, summer projects, etc. Education is a social activity and students learn through interactions. You have to plan time for that. It’s one thing to allow students to earn degrees with extra credit, but allowing students to pursue two “full-time” degrees will be disastrous.
According to the draft guidelines, students can pursue two full-time degrees in three ways. First, they can take both academic programs in person provided that class times do not overlap. Second, they can take one program in person and another online or remotely. And third, they can take up to two programs online or remotely.
“The two universities or colleges should be close to each other. It is not possible to take two programs in person at two universities located in different cities,” the UGC president said, illustrating some of the conditions under which this will be allowed. Students can, he added, pursue a second program at the same college or university.
The UGC has also warned that under this provision, online programs will only be permitted by tertiary institutions recognized by the commission or the Indian government.
Kumar clarified that it will not be mandatory for universities to adopt these guidelines. “Once the guidelines are published, universities can devise mechanisms through their statutory bodies to allow students to take two university programs simultaneously. This will not be a mandatory requirement. But we hope that more and more universities and colleges will allow students to pursue two degrees together,” he said.
Admission to both courses will be through existing processes followed by the respective higher education institution, Kumar said.
Students will not be allowed to use credits earned in one program to meet the requirements of another program, the UGC president added.
Asked about the possibility of overlapping examinations, Kumar, “It will be up to the institutes to decide. If two institutions have a memorandum of understanding and have decided to let each other’s students pursue two degrees simultaneously, then they can easily schedule the exams. »
Rajesh Jha, Professor of Political Science at DU’s Rajdhani College, said: “This will reduce the purpose of education to obtaining degrees rather than acquiring knowledge. How will it be possible for students to fulfill the requirements of two full-time degrees simultaneously? It is not humanly possible. »