The University Grants Council (UGC) is debating the idea of allowing students to pursue multiple degrees together. With the advent of technology, the way students look at courses has changed drastically. Students are more keen on pursuing specialised courses besides their degree programmes to enhance job opportunities for themselves. The council is now evaluating the feasibility of the idea with an experts panel deployed to reflect on this. Under the guidance of the UGC Vice-Chairman Mr Bhushan Patwardhan, the committee has been set up to look into the scopes and possibilities of pursuing two degrees/courses together from same or different universities in any of full-time, distance, online or part-time mode.
The idea is not new, previously in 2012, a committee was set up to think on the idea but was finally scrapped. A senior UGC official has said that the committee was set up at the end of June 2019, and already held one meeting to talk about the feasibility of the idea.
Previously, the 2012 committee was headed by then Vice-Chancellor of Hyderabad University (UOH), Mr Furqan Qamar. He had recommended that a student registered in a degree curriculum under regular mode may be permitted to pursue a maximum of one extra degree programme simultaneously under distance or open mode from the same or another university.
Reason for UGC Ruling Against Pursuing Multiple Degrees
The previous UGC report said that to avoid academic, administrative and logistic problems, pursuing two full-time courses at once should not be allowed. A maximum of a certificate, diploma, advanced diploma, Post Graduate diploma programme together either in regular and open or distance mode from the same university or other institutions will be allowed to a student pursuing a full-time degree programme under regular mode.
Experts have said that introducing a student-focused education system is long due. Though, several factors obstructed opening up doors for allowing students to explore studies according to their choice.
The recent Choice Based Credit System (CBSE) is also failing to deliver the expected outcomes which resulted in UGC to take a relook into its previous decision to allow students to take up only one postgraduate and a certificate course with their regular degree or ongoing postgraduate courses.
The Vice-Chancellor of Hyderabad’s Osmania University Professor S Ramachandram said that the need of the hour is a student-centric education system. It is definitely a deviation from the traditional system extending for decades. However, he added that there are numerous logistical problems which call for addressing. They include upgrading the human resources and infrastructure, specifically, in the State universities.
Similarly, former Professor K Seetha Rama Rao, Vice-Chancellor of Dr. Ambedkar Open University, said the opportunities for students to pursue different courses together can be allowed against the support of technological interface and infrastructure for making it possible.
Prof G Nageswara Rao, the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University, Visakhapatnam has however opposed the Idea of letting students pursue different full-time degree courses together. The uncertainty of the process of implementation has been cited as the prime reasons as per his opinions.
The UGC officials have said that UGC has sought the reports from statutory bodies of the Universities against the idea. Most of the reviews received from the universities contradicted the idea of letting student pursue two full-time courses together.
UGC is reconsidering this idea because there are really advanced technologies implemented in educational sectors, which makes this process easy. There is a vast student population who would want to pursue specialised courses with a regular degree they are enrolled in to enhance their knowledge. Ideally, to engage and empower students with versatile knowledge will not only improve the student's skill-set as required in any given industry but also expand job opportunities for them. Until UGC comes out with a consensus, we can only hope that the decision will be in keeping with the progress of students and higher education in India.
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