On Tuesday, the University Grants Commission (UGC) announced that students will now be able to pursue two full-time academic programmes in physical mode. The commission has developed a set of guidelines in this regard, which are now available on the official website, ugc.ac.in. Previously, UGC regulations prohibited students from pursuing two full-time programmes, and they could only pursue one full-time degree in addition to online/short-term/diploma courses.
The guidelines will apply to all programmes offered throughout the country. Students can select between 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 (PG) degree and also wishes to enrol in a bachelor’s degree in a different domain, he or she will be able to do so. The class times for both programmes must not overlap.
“It was decided at the last commission meeting on March 31 to issue guidelines that 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.
Students will be able to pursue two degree programmes across domains such as sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, and a wide range of disciplines under the new guidelines. Adopting these guidelines is optional for universities, and they can only be implemented with the approval of the universities’ governing bodies. The eligibility criteria for each programme will remain unchanged, and admissions will be made in accordance with current UGC and university norms.
“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 change allows a student to enrol in not only two physical programmes at the same time, but also two academic programmes, one in full-time physical mode and the other in open and distance learning mode. They can also enrol in a physical programme at a university in addition to an online programme. Students can also pursue two online degrees simultaneously as a third option.
Universities will have to develop attendance criteria for these courses because all academic programmes have minimum attendance requirements for students to be able to take exams. “UGC does not mandate any attendance requirements, and these are university policies,” Kumar added.
“With the rapid increase in demand for high-quality higher education and the limitation of only enrolling about 3% of students on physical campuses, many developments in the fields of open and distance learning, as well as online education, have occurred.” Many universities now offer both offline and online programmes,” Kumar said, adding that the UGC will release revised regulations for online education in a few weeks, after which many top-tier institutes in India will begin offering online degrees.