Take two: The pursuit of two courses simultaneously in physical mode is problematic

News: Recently, the University Grants Commission(UGC) has issued guidelines to allow students to pursue two academic programmes simultaneously at higher education institutes(HEIs) recognised by it or statutory councils or the Government of India.

About the Dual Degree Programme

The notified guidelines will enable students to simultaneously pursue two academic programmes at multiple levels except for PhD courses.

The UGC has proposed a three-way choice involving a combination of offline only; offline with distance mode; and distance/online only modes for dual programmes.

The guidelines also call for critical evaluation given the nature of competition, accessibility and academic-cum-physical infrastructure issues in colleges and universities.

Read more: UGC issues norms for students to do two programmes at once
What are the advantages of the Dual Degree Programme?

Recognisation of HEIs: According to the guidelines, the Open/distance learning and online mode courses should be pursued only in higher education institutions recognised by statutory bodies. This would also eliminate dubious players in the online education segment.

Liberty to students: The guidelines offer students the liberty to enhance their skills and scope of employability through an additional degree.

What are the challenges associated with the Dual Degree Programme?

Reduce the number of seats:  According to the All India Survey on Higher Education Report, 2019-20 the national average college density is 30 per lakh population(in the 18-23 age group). This is considered as a country with low college density.

Pursuing two full-time programmes in physical mode might prompt students, who are academically proficient or with the economic wherewithal, to corner seats in two in-demand courses.

Apart from that, pursuing dual courses may create logistic, administrative and academic problems.

What should be done to improve Dual Degree Programme?

The UGC’s Furqan Qamar Committee a decade ago recommended dual programmes with a second degree in open/distance mode. Hence, the UGC may reconsider its guidelines for the physical mode option and also strengthen and streamline the open/distance learning courses in parallel.

Eliminate common curriculum: UGC’s 2004 document for initiation of double/multiple degree programmes in engineering disciplines had proposed a “gap” before an engineering degree holder could enrol for an additional or add-on degree course. This will reduce the duration of the add-on degree by eliminating about 33% to 38% (52 to 60-course credits) of the “common curriculum” of the BE/B.Tech course (a total of 160 credits).

This could be applied to allied courses in arts and science and reduce the duration of the second degree for students.

Source: The post is based on the following article, “Take two: The pursuit of two courses simultaneously in physical mode is problematic” published in The Hindu on 16th Apr 22. 


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