Universities will need to change admissions rules to accommodate UGC’s dual degree policy


University Scholarship Commission (TOS) recently asked all universities to make appropriate changes to allow students to pursue two degrees simultaneously in offline mode. Although a similar model has been in place in various IITs for some years, central universities fear the changes needed to implement this policy.

Explain the change
Mr. Jagadesh Kumar, President of UGC, says: “Now, students can pursue two degrees simultaneously in physics mode, one in physics and the other in online mode or both in online mode. This will encourage multidisciplinary education in all fields. For example, a student of MSc (Maths) can additionally do a BSc (Biology) for a career in computational biology specialization.
However, before choosing the second degree program, students should assess whether the additional academic effort required will in any way affect the preparation required for the primary degree course. “Only students who have the necessary academic preparation should opt for two degrees. Also, the choice of the second degree should be made based on what the student wants to do in the future,” says Kumar.

Each university has its own admission policy and academic rules and regulations. “HIS should make student-friendly changes, students who choose to pursue two degrees in different institutes should understand the policies of each institute before making the decision,” Kumar adds.

Already in place
Deepankar Choudhury, Professor and Director, Civil Engineering, IIT Bombay and one of the founding members of JoSAA, talks about a similar program that has been running at the institute since 2017. “We offer three types of BTech programs, including the regular BTech, in which students major in a single stream; BTech with Honors, which allows students to take five to six additional courses in the same specialization, and BTech with Minors, where students take five to six additional courses in another specialization. These alternatives have been added for students who might not have been able to get their preferred stream due to a relatively low JEE ranking. “Only high achieving students after the first year can opt for BTech with honors or BTech with minors courses in their second year. The instructor may maintain a cap on the additional seats per course that may be granted to these students for additional credit,” adds Choudhury.

This course “overload” forces students to take between three and eight hours of extra preparation time per week per semester. Students who opt for these additional courses earn a degree in the chosen major, with additional credits in the additional courses, which would help them in their respective careers. Since its inception, approximately 10% of top performing students have opted for these additional courses, while approximately 5% may complete with these additional credits.

Giving a similar option to UG students in all disciplines is a very good way to go. “Students, parents and educators need to become more vigilant so that students are able to make a more informed choice of their higher education path,” adds Choudhury.

Upcoming roadblocks
A senior educator from the University of Delhi (DU), on condition of anonymity, shares his apprehensions. “Opting for two degrees simultaneously, one in physical mode and the other in distance mode is always possible but pursuing two degrees offline at the same time seems difficult. Attendance management, extra work pressure, and not prioritizing required academic effort are a few immediate concerns,” the educator explains. The case must be presented to the academic board of DU and the administration is not yet sure of the way forward, he adds.

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