Now, students can pursue two degree/PG programmes simultaneously. Here is what the UGC's guidelines will say

It has been left to the discretion of the universities to formulate guidelines for such programmes. UGC Chairman says move provides students flexibility to acquire diverse education
Pic: Edexlive
Pic: Edexlive

In another push for multidisciplinary education, the University Grants Commission has now cleared the field for students to pursue two programmes simultaneously. The guidelines for this measure, which was, up until now, not allowed by the UGC will be uploaded on the Commission's website and will be in force from the academic year 2022-23. This will be applicable to Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Diploma programmes, which will be governed by the UGC, as well as by relevant statutory bodies.

In an announcement to members of the press, UGC Chairman Prof M Jagadesh Kumar said, "It will be left to the discretion of the universities to decide whether they wish to provide students with the flexibility of applying for a second degree simultaneously." The eligibility for these programmes and the attendance policy will be formulated by the respective universities. "We hope this flexibility will help students acquire diverse knowledge across domains," added the Chairman. 

A student will be allowed to pursue a combination of two programmes simultaneously provided the schedule for classes of one programme does not clash with the other. Students can either take up two programmes in the physical mode or one programme in a physical mode and another online, or in distance mode, or both programmes in online or distance mode. "These measures are in line with the National Education Policy that has stressed a multidisciplinary approach to education," said Prof Kumar, adding, "This is an opportunity for students to personalise and customise their education so they can gain multidisciplinary education."

The UGC Chairman also announced that according to the Modified Online Programmes Regulations, anybody who has passed Plus Two or its equivalent is eligible to join online programmes. He also said that the option of multiple entry and exit will be available to students both in physical mode and in online mode. "Students will have to complete the credit requirements of both the courses they undertake individually in order to clear them," said the Chairman. 

The students will have to adhere to the admissions policies of the universities they choose, since the implementation of the dual degree option will be decided upon by the statutory bodies of the respective universities, by passing relevant ordinances. The UGC Chairman also added that he does not expect the dual degree option to put any additional stress or burden on colleges and universities that are short-staffed.

Commenting upon the Digital University which has been proposed by the National Education Policy and has been mentioned in the Union Budget for this financial year, the UGC Chairman said that the Digital University will be brought in as an Act of Parliament and will be declared an Institution of National Importance. Speaking about the need to bolster online education, the UGC Chairman said, "Physical universities admit only three to four per cent of the students who apply. This is why we are encouraging premier institutions and universities in India to introduce online courses."

The UGC Chairman also told Edexlive that while the Academic Bank of Credit, which is a digital repository of the students' credits accumulated over their career of study has not been made compulsory and, therefore, will have no real role to play in the option of two simultaneous degrees being given to the students. "It is voluntary for the universities to register for the ABC. However, it is their social responsibility for them to do so because it provides the students with more options for holistic education," said the UGC Chairman.

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