November 30, 2022

Emphasis is on implementation issues, as UGC allows students to pursue two full-time degrees simultaneously

Breaking with its previous rigid guidelines that allowed students to complete only one full-time degree at a time, the University Grants Commission recently announced that students can now voluntarily choose to pursue two degrees at the same level at the same time. time at recognized universities. institutes. Although they have the potential to broaden the horizons of students, the broad guidelines defined by the UGC leave room for ambiguity and therefore for errors.

On April 13, UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain issued a letter directing the country’s universities and their affiliated colleges to implement the rule in accordance with the objectives highlighted in the National Education Policy (NEP). 2020. The announcement also comes with a suggestion that universities can devise mechanisms through their statutory bodies to allow their students to pursue two university programs simultaneously with the guidelines in mind.

The guidelines basically state that students can pursue two degrees at the same time if the class schedules of one program do not overlap with the class schedules of the other; one can be a full-time physical degree and another can be in open and distance learning (ODL)/online mode or up to two ODL/online programs can be taken simultaneously; among others.

While the intention is to make available “multidisciplinarity and holistic education across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities and sports for a multidisciplinary world to ensure the unity and integrity of all knowledge”, as the NEP indicates, there may be some setbacks in the implementation of the guidelines.

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According to the All India Higher Education Survey, 3.85 million students are currently pursuing higher education in India. However, the number of teachers teaching them stands at 15.03 lakh, exposing the divide between the two groups.

This raises concerns about the pressure that would be placed on these teachers once students start taking two degrees at once. As professors could now teach twice as many students as before, higher education institutions would need to hire more professors to successfully achieve the intended goal.

Dr. Dwarika Prasad Uniyal, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Founding Dean of the School of Economics & Finance, RV University, believes that massive investment in digital technology platforms and learning management systems would be essential. This comes with training faculty and staff to be more agile and embrace technology.

Talking about the changes that need to be made to the current educational structure to make the transition to UGC easier, Uniyal says that creating industry-focused and value-added courses would help in addition to hiring more experienced people in areas special as visiting and adjunct professors. He also says that universities and colleges based in the city should work together and stop competing with each other.

Price to pay

A 2020 National Statistical Organization report titled “Household Social Consumption: Education in India” reiterated a well-known fact: education is not cheap in India.

According to the report, the average expenditure for higher education is Rs. 14,264 rupees. 11,845 in rural areas and Rs 18,485 in urban areas – at postgraduate level. It climbs to Rs 18,110 – Rs 15,827 in rural area and Rs 20,443 in urban area – at postgraduate level and above in terms of general courses. The cost only increases when it comes to technical and vocational courses with a graduate course costing Rs 12,274 – Rs 8,701 in rural areas and Rs 21,799 in urban areas – on average. It goes up to Rs 66,824 – Rs 50,512 in rural areas and Rs 74,068 in urban areas – at postgraduate level.

With the reduction in India’s per capita income, taking over second degree fees may not be feasible for many unless the UGC decides to step in and impose restrictions on fees which must be charged for the second degree. In accordance with current UGC guidelines, the cost aspect of the move and even the part where teachers’ salaries may need to be increased to cope with the increased load have not been addressed.

The mental balance

With the constant pressure to excel academically above their heads, Indian students have struggled with mental health issues like stress, depression, anxiety disorders which even led to suicide in some cases. With two degrees on the board, the likelihood of this pressure skyrocketing is high – double the assignments, subjects that may or may not be in the same field, exams, preparations, and even peers with which they can be compared.

When it comes to choosing the combination of degrees, the decision of the students will have to be properly guided, researched and considered so as not to risk their overall personality development just because they are stuck pursuing the two consuming degrees. all their time.

Dr. Syed Zafar Sultan Rizvi, an assistant professor at the International University of Noida, who also holds a doctorate in psychology, has a different view. Give the example of the former Indian President, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. who was not only an extraordinary scientist but also a very good Veena player, Rizvi says it will depend on how the students choose their courses.

“If someone is pursuing a science education and wants to explore their creativity or artistic nature by taking a fine arts or music course, it would benefit them and increase their productivity. There are many examples of scientists, researchers and doctors who work hard in their field but can find time for their passion to learn new things,” he says.