Take Two: The Hindu Editorial on Pursuing Two Degrees at Once

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Allowing the continuation of two courses simultaneously in physical mode is problematic

Allowing the continuation of two courses simultaneously in physical mode is problematic

The university’s dual degree program, a work in progress and the subject of much litigation for years, has finally been recognized as legally sacred by the University Grants Commission. The notified guidelines from the higher education regulatory body will allow students to pursue two tiered degree programs simultaneously except for doctoral courses. He projected it as a logical extension of the National Education Policy 2020, which emphasizes facilitating multiple pathways of learning using formal and non-formal modes. UGC proposed a three-way choice involving a combination of offline only; offline with distance mode; and distance/line modes only for dual routines. The UGC has done well to require that open/distance learning and online courses are only offered at higher education institutions recognized by statutory bodies. It would also weed out dubious players from the online education segment.

Giving students the freedom to improve their skills and employability through an additional degree is welcome. But the guidelines call for critical assessment given the nature of competition, accessibility, and academic and physical infrastructure issues at colleges and universities. UGC said a student can also pursue two full-time programs in physical mode. This is problematic because it could incentivize students, who are academically competent or have the economic means, to take seats in two in-demand courses. Such a situation is best avoided against the backdrop of the low density of colleges in the country – colleges per lakh of population (in the age group 18-23). In the All India Survey on Higher Education Report 2019-20, the national average college density is 30. at a distance, had ruled out the simultaneous offer of courses in regular mode “because this can create logistical, administrative and academic problems”. In this context, the UGC could review its orientations for the physical mode option, while implementing the other two choices, reinforcing and rationalizing open/distance training in parallel. Alternatively, he can refer to his 2004 paper for the initiation of a dual/multiple degree program in engineering disciplines, where he had proposed a “gap” before a holder of an engineering degree could enroll in an additional or complementary course. This approach is pragmatic because it also aimed to reduce the duration of the complementary diploma by removing approximately 33% to 38% (52 to 60 course credits) of the “common curriculum” of BE/B.Tech training (a total of 160 credits ). This logic could apply to courses combining arts and sciences and reduce the duration of the second degree for students who wish to pursue work-study programs in physical mode. The more practical a policy, the better its results.


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