The University Grants Commission (UGC) earlier this week announced that students can now pursue two undergraduate or postgraduate degrees/diplomas simultaneously in the physical, online or combination modes in accordance with the National Education Policy.
As per UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar the step aims to offer flexibility and personalisation of higher education and even allow multidisciplinary education across various domains for students.
With this decision, students will be able to pursue two UG or PG degrees/diplomas together in the physical+physical mode or physical+online mode or online+online mode.
The questions that are now being asked is this potentially a ‘best of both worlds’ situation for the students that can help them develop multiple skills in quick time? Or will they simply end up neither here nor there?
Students should note that if they are pursuing two programmes where both are in physical modes, it may be an issue because it may be a strain on them physically to attend two sets of classes. Besides, two top universities may not always be located close to each other for students to easily go from one set of classes to the other. The UGC chairman said that because of this a physical+online combination may be the best for students.
These guidelines shall come into effect from the date of their notification by the UGC. No retrospective benefit can be claimed by the students who have already done two academic programmes simultaneously prior to the notification of these guidelines.
There are also questions that there is no guarantee if a student might remain underskilled despite getting two degrees if the institution keeps compromising on the quality of teaching. The government must ensure reduction in disparity in offering education and efforts must be taken towards uniform infrastructure in education institutions.
Hitherto, the higher education regulator’s rules do not allow simultaneous enrollment in two programmes and the inflexibility is likely to boast broad-basing of expertise. The decision is welcome but needs to be augmented. It can go a long way towards fulfilling one of the major objectives of broadening outlooks and expanding the perspectives of students.
The thrust towards multidisciplinary training should address deficiencies but it must also be careful not to undermine the advantages of institutions. More steps are needed to bring uniformity in the higher education framework and all stakeholders must work in unison to achieve the common objective.